Volvo has launched what it claims is the “UK’s most comprehensive online new car buying service”.
The initiative - live at www.volvocars.co.uk/order-online - allows buyers to configure their new car, part exchange their old one and, if necessary, sign a finance agreement online in less than 20 minutes, according to its creators. Volvos can be bought on factory order or from stock, with orders always linked to a retailer which will set pricing. Used Volvos could be offered at a future date. All sales will be subject to distance selling regulations, giving customers who choose to buy entirely online further consumer rights.
Initially only the XC40 will be available through the Volvo configurator, but other models are available to buy online now and configuration will be rolled out from the 3rd of May. Buyers can purchase their car with cash, on a PCP or a PCH, however the latter will not be possible via an electronic signature until the second half of 2019. The configurator is set up to amend the monthly cost of leasing the car as a customer adds options, in order to give them a live quote.
“Whether online or offline, the way people buy cars has changed. Customers now have much more control over the process, and Volvo Online helps them to take that one step further,” said Volvo UK managing director Jon Wakefield. “It makes life as easy as possible without compromising on choice or security, and lets customers drive the purchase process when it’s most convenient for them.”
Other manufacturers, including Hyundai, Peugeot, Ford and Tesla, have unveiled similar online purchasing initiatives, although reports suggest that, to date, they have been more useful for gaining customer behaviour insight than profitability.
“It is very clear that we are entering this space in order to learn,” said Wakefield. “By engaging in this way with our customers we will find out what they want. Our expectation is that a significant number will enjoy the process as part of the transaction, and as we learn we can adapt our service.”
Volvo also faces strong opposition from intermediary sites that work with retailer groups to offer its cars, often at significant discounts.
These include Autocar’s sister site What Car? which links buyers to retailers of cars at its Target Price - the most its mystery shoppers say you should pay for a new car - or below.
However, Wakefield stressed that individual Volvo dealers will be able to set their pricing for the online initiative. “Our retailers will be free to set prices, but if you are wanting to buy on price alone then there are aggregators out there,” he said. “What we’re offering gives you a guiding hand, with a stress-free brand experience.”
Volvo’s sales to date in the UK are up 39% year-on-year, driven by the ongoing success of the XC40 and new launches such as the upcoming S60. The UK recently overtook Sweden as Volvo’s third biggest market, behind China and the US.