Local boss says the company's 'Care by Volvo' program could soon be offered Down Under, as it seeks to broaden its appeal with Australian buyers.
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Along with electric cars, the subject on everyone's lips for the future of vehicle ownership is, somewhat ironically, subscription services. Spotify for cars? Netflix for mobility? Call it what you like, but in the future, you may not actually 'own' the vehicle you're driving.

Car sharing without the grubby interior maybe? According to Volvo Australia boss, Nick Connor, the subscription idea has real merit in a typically enthusiast market like Australia, even with a premium angle. In the future, it doesn't have to just be cheap and cheerful then.

"Care By Volvo is our global subscription model, we launched it in the UK, it has a team in the UK, it's now operating there, in Germany and the US and demand has exceeded supply," Connor told Australian media in Sweden.

"It was linked to the XC40 launch, and the subscription model is an important direction for us for the future."

While the theory might not make sense to some of us, who traditionally covet vehicle ownership, it's worth noting that the subscription model has already transformed technology (phones, computers etc), music and video/TV. If you've bought a CD or DVD recently for example, you're very much in the minority - certainly among younger consumers anyway.

"Everything is in a cloud, and we don’t physically own all kinds of things anymore," Connor explained regarding the theory of 'having, using, and giving back'.

"The subscription model has a lot of legs, and it can be premium priced - frankly it needs to be premium priced to make us any money!"

Connor asked us to consider a customer who might need a car, certainly likes using a car, but might not need it 12 months of the year, meaning you're paying for a further four months that you won't be using it.

"You only need it eight months of the year, and can therefore give it back for the four months when you don’t," Connor said.

"I don’t think younger people value the ownership anymore. This month I want an XC40, next month I want an S60, and that’s where the subscription model works."

While that may be unpalatable to some car fans, the system is already working in other markets where simply parking a car can be an issue, let alone the running costs for large chunks of time when you can't drive it anyway.

Think of a city that's buried under thick snow for a few months. Most owners will park the car up and use public transport to get to work, rather than slog it out in icy conditions. That's one specific example, but it shows that the system is working in instances where it makes sense.

"Care By Volvo is a very neat offer," Connor said, "you just add fuel, or plug it in if we're talking about electric cars, you could add charging into the fee as well."

"We’ve got to keep that car on our books and recycle it (through the system, maybe even at a reduced fee as it ages), to make it work for us."

While Connor agrees that the XC40 is the most logical first ip offering, Volvo might not necessarily start with that vehicle either. He explained that you could offer any Volvo on sale in Australia in theory and, "personally, I think if we're going to do it, we should do it across the range".

The challenge for Volvo in Australia, will of course be the size of the market and the brands relatively small market share.

"The economics are not that attractive for us as a manufacturer in the short term," Connor said, "if it brings people into the brand, and attracts new people, that works, but we would need to get a second, third, fourth life out of that vehicle."