The facelifted Volvo S60 (above) will launch in Australia in December, around the same time as the two Volvo Polestar Racing V8 Supercars will begin testing for the 2014 season.
Volvo Car Australia managing director Matt Braid confirmed that the rear-wheel-drive V8 Supercars racer that wears the Volvo S60 name will get the same front end as the facelifted production car, as shown by the first teaser image below.
Speaking at the announcement of Volvo’s V8 Supercars program, which doubled as the local launch of the Volvo S60 Polestar performance sedan, Braid confirmed that entering the racing series is a “long term” brand strategy.
He lists the V8 Supercars commitment as a “small increase on our current marketing budget”, agreeing that Volvo hasn’t traditionally had the marketing spend of other entrants like Nissan and Holden.
This strongly indicates that the cost of the V8 Supercars proposal was extremely low relative to the return, possibly as a need to future-proof the racing series leading up to the demise of the Ford Falcon – and likely a Ford withdrawal from V8 Supercars.
“If you look at the expense [of a V8 supercar] two or three years ago, the expense to develop a car then was significant,” says Braid (below).
“Car of the Future rules … the cost of entry is a lot more effective from a manufacturer point of view than what it would have been if we had to re-engineer a production car to become a race car.”
In simple terms, Volvo is given a standardised chassis to which it just needs to provide body cladding with S60 styling and a unique engine.
“The inputs from the manufacturer are far reduced, so the cost is reduced,” adds Braid.
He admits that while growth in the Volvo brand locally hasn’t been as strong as forecast this year, he doesn’t expect a sudden rise in sales as a result of the V8 Supercars partnership.
“We’ve grown very successfully over ’03, ’04, ’05 … this year, the market’s very difficult,” Braid said.
“We’re probably five or 10 per cent behind where we want to be at this point of the year [but] we have some strong plans for the back end of the year. We’re quite comfortable where we are.”
This is despite Volvo losing both the C30 hatchback and S40 small sedan this year, both of which have been replaced by the single V40 hatchback.
“Already we’re seeing a compensation in volume for those two cars…” argued Braid.
The local Volvo boss ruled out cutting prices, however, as Alfa Romeo has recently done, to reposition Volvo as a competitor for that brand and Volkwagen. Although he acknowledged that price cuts would increase sales, he reiterated that “we want to enhance the presence of the brand rather than pull it down to some other competitors”.
“Volvo is a luxury brand,” Braid added. “We should play with the likes of Lexus, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. We’re very comfortable with where the V40 sits price-wise against those competitors.
“We wouldn’t look at Golf or Alfa [Giulietta] necessarily, but if BMW and Mercedes and Audi did aggressively look at those cars and do some actions then obviously we’d have to follow if we wanted to compete.
“We’re not really concerned about the VW and Alfa brands. Our feedback from customers and media show it [V40] is on par [with 1 Series, A3, A-Class].”
Braid did, however, say that come December when the facelifted S60 (above) lands “we have some adjustments going forward, but nothing too dramatic”.
“We want to build on S60,” he adds, while confirming that the medium sedan will continue as a competior to the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series, sitting above the Mazda 6 and Volkswagen Passat.
Volvo has sold 2077 cars in Australia to May 2013, 245 units or 10 per cent down on the same period last year.