TG discusses Volvo's India plans
Thomas Andersson, Vice President International, Volvo Cars, tells our man Ashish Masih about his company’s plans for India
TG: What are Volvo’s plans for India in the near future?
Thomas Andersson: We went from selling 320 cars in 2011 to selling over 800 units last year, but we aren’t satisfied with that. We are expanding our footprint in India, both in terms of dealerships as well as the model line-up. The company opened up two dealerships this week - one in Bangalore in the state of Karnataka and the other in Ahmednagar in the state of Gujarat, taking the total number of Volvo dealerships to 12. The plan is to increase it to fifteen before the end of this year. We will be getting a bit more aggressive on the advertising front as well to inform buyers about the philosophies we follow at Volvo.
TG: How do you look at India vis-a-vis China or Europe?
TA: I believe that our next big leg of growth will come from India. There is no comparison between India and any other market. The Indian market dynamics are very different. India is a key market for us and will remain so. Every month there is a new set of buyers for our cars and the market is only growing. When we sell a Volvo, we are building a relationship with the customer.
TG: What cars can we expect to see from you soon?
TA: The V40 compact SUV will be here by June. We will launch the new S60 before February next year, and will also look at launching the new S80 and XC60 by 2015. While we don’t want to talk numbers, we believe these products will give customers a solid chance to buy something different from the usual offerings.
TG: What is the single biggest challenge you see here?
TA: India is a unique market. It’s very different from Europe. But Indians like value very much. However, it’s our philosophy not to offer big discounts which buyers look for sometimes. But we do offer great aftersales support. That’s why we are the only car company that offers 2-year free service along with a 24x7 pan-India assistance program on offer. We’ll send our trained technician to your town even if you do not have a Volvo dealership there but have bought a Volvo. I think that speaks volumes for our commitment as well our long-term plans for India.
TG: What’s the next big thing at Volvo?
TA: Our Scaleable Platform Architecture (SPA), effectively a single chassis capable of being lengthened or widened, will appear next year under the XC90 replacement and will gradually be adopted for all large Volvos. It is stronger yet lighter than anything we’ve ever build before. It will also help us keep costs competitive and give us the edge we need over rivals.
Also, very exciting is our new family of four-cylinder diesel and petrol engines with a choice of two manual transmissions or an eight-speed auto. The new four-cylinder engines can offer between 140bhp to almost 300bhp depending on the state of tune. Next-gen cars will have brilliant infotainment systems as well. Wifi-enabled cars along with many apps like Spotify, which can load music even when you are not online. We are working on cars that will use apps from your phone to heat the seats or cool them before you enter. And all these technologies will come to India soon.