YOU’D think a Volvo dealership would look the same wherever you went regardless of country.
Wrong. On Monday, we visited Brabil, a Volvo dealership on the outskirts of Gothenburg which, apart from the Volvo badge bolted to the brickwork, couldn’t be more unlike any Volvo showroom in the UK.
Let me tell you why…
For starters it’s massive – and I mean massive. I can’t give you an accurate figure for the showroom’s floor footprint, but let me say this – EVERY single one of Volvo’s 11-car model range can be easily housed under the roof, and there’s space for eight used cars too.
‘That’s because of the weather we have here in Sweden,’ said CEO Alexander Ormeus. ‘It’s quite normal in Sweden to have space for not only used cars, but for the whole model range. Why would you not have the space? Customers want to see all the models we have.’
He has a good point. The V70 is comfortably Brabil’s number one best-seller, with the V60 and XC60 trailing just behind.
‘The XC60 is starting to become a very strong seller for us,’ said Ormeus. ‘We are selling loads – really loads.’
Strangely, for us Brits at least, just because Volvo is a home-brand, the marque is not an obvious choice for Swedes. ‘We’re not like Americans or the Germans in buying home-brands purely for patriotic reasons.
‘We buy cars if we like them, they’re safe or they’re stylish. Volkswagen is easily our biggest competitor, but with Volvos now having more style, Volvo now has around a 19 per cent market share in Sweden.’
Of the eight salesmen at this Gothenburg-based dealership, they are all tasked by Ormeus to sell 24 cars a week, or 90 a month or 200 cars a year.
In stark contrast to the UK’s prediction of around 1.9m units this year, Sweden will only sell 300,000 cars this year – and the market is up on last year. ‘Ah,’ replies Ormeus, ‘but Sweden has a smaller population.’ Around 9m people live in Sweden.
XC70? Let’s off-road
A quick glance at an XC70 might return a feeling of: ‘Oh, that’s only a jacked-up V70 – that could hardly be a car that could go off-road.’
Keen to show that this opinion is so totally wrong, Volvo took us to a nearby wood and let us roam free on four treacherous tracks.
Most consisted of avoiding trees and the odd bolder, but one track was so off-piste it could easy be the stomping ground for a Paris-Dakar car. Even with road tyres, the XC70 performed superbly – shocking every journo who dared to believe different.