Volvo Cars Australia says its successful foray into V8 Supercars is starting to give its S60 mid-sized sedan the kind of “cut through”it has lacked since launching in 2011.
The Swedish brand joined the local touring car series this season in collaboration with Garry Rogers Motorsport. With a racecar version of the Volvo S60 it has already recorded an event win in Perth, while Kiwi young gun Scott McLaughlin currently sits seventh in the driver’s championship standings.
Sales growth to the end of May of 63 per cent has seen the Swedish S60 sedan, alongside its V60 wagon derivative, belie a segment in which key rivals such as the runout Mercedes-Benz C-Class (down 15 per cent) and BMW 3 Series (down 18 per cent) have lost ground against last year.
This only tells part of the story, according to Volvo Australia’s managing director Matt Braid, who told CarAdvice the aggressive and rigorously costed —albeit controversial, in some quarters —move into V8 Supercars has seen enquiry levels double over their previous levels.
“We did not go racing in Australia just for fun,”said Braid, “though we are having a lot of fun now at other people’s expense, and that puts a smile on our face. But certainly there was a very strong business case to do it in this market, and it did revolve around showcasing our highest volume-potential sedan.
“We launched that car in 2011 and marketed in aggressively, but it just wasn't getting much cut through or recognition in that segment,”he said.
“(But) since literally the weekend at Clipsal (the opening V8 Supercars round in March) our enquiry rates have mostly doubled compared to the pre-racing days.
“We track that weekly…there is a spike in enquiry the week after every racing weekend this year, so it’s literally tracking that directly, which we didn’t anticipate. We knew the correlation of ‘race on Saturday, sell on Monday’would help, but it’s surprised us.
“It’s been as successful as we hoped it would be, and there’s scope for further opportunity. The sedan segment is the largest we play in and we’ve got plenty of blue sky above us for what we can achieve with S60.”
This ‘blue sky’analogy refers to the S60’s niche status in the premium sedan race, which remains Australia’s most lucrative piece of the luxury market.
Despite its recent growth, the S60 owns less than four per cent segment share, but Braid said the company has big hopes to maintain its push, even with a new-generation C-Class arriving here next month.
Braid said price cuts would be pointless, however, to facilitate this.
“We’re very pleased, it’s moving in the right direction, but we’re getting very greedy and we want more of it,”he said.
“(But) price adjustments you won’t see, because nobody buys a car at retail price anymore, you can’t find retail price other than in your publications, so it’s about what offer you have on the car, so yes we’ll continue to be very aggressive with marketing and how we offer it.”
The Volvo S60 is priced between $49,990 plus on-road costs for the T4 Kinetic through to $71,990 for the T6 AWD R-Design, though the company is presently sweetening things with end of financial year deal that offer three years of free servicing and up to three years of free fuel.
In addition, Volvo last month cut the price of the limited-edition S60 Polestar to $99,950 in response to Audi slashing $15,000 from its rival S4.