Is Volvo on the fast road to bankruptcy?

hollerlab —  February 20, 2013 — Leave a comment

We recently saw a promotional peice from Volvo touting all of the fantastic technology it will be employing in its cars over the next 7 – 10 years. With the goal of avoiding ALL fatalities caused by it’s vehicles (whether you are driving a Volvo or a innocaent pedestrian) by 2020.

I have to admit not only is this a bold statement and a somewhat loaded gun. It also seems counter productive to modern consumer needs and wants.

Cars have become progressively safer over the last 5 decades. From back in the good old days where cars where about as safe as bungee jumping using a peice of chewing gum. To today, where most vehilces employ the most advanced safety equipment in the world.

I can see the benefit of driverless cars (to an extent). But I think that Volvo is really missing the point in the below video. Buying a car is the 2nd largest purchase (after buying a home) that people make. Much like home buying a home, it is quite often more emotional than logical. Actually any purchase behaviour is generally driven by intagibles first and logic second.

The reason that Volvo’s are out of favour is because they are seen as stale, borning and over engineered. So why would you continue down the same track.

I understand that safety is an important issue. But car manufacturers are striving to make their vehicles safer all the time. We now assume when buying a car that I we are going to get the best technology and safety features. Therefore is safety really still a consideration for consumers? Is it still part of their decision making profile? Furthermore, If an incredibly advanced and efficacious safety technology is developed (and manufacturers should continue to do so). Either the technology will, in a very short period of time, make its way through to other manufacturers vehicles or be mandated as standard by government bodies. 

Hence I think Volvo is over engineering a product beyond what people actually want. Let’s contrast.

Which car would you rather, the latest Audi RS:

Or the Volvo that is set to come out in 7 years time that can follow another vehicle driven by a professional driver:

I think safety and the latest technology is almost an assumed feature, especially in the premium end of the market. I seriously think Volvo is throwing good money after bad by not contextualising the emotional benefit people will derive from their vehicles and brand.

Also god forbid that someone’s family member dies in 2021 and get’s their hand on this video. It is an incredibly ambitious statement.

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