The country’s economy is definitely on an upswing when luxury car sales start to rise. In 1998, that segment of cars (represented by Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo) totalled 2,482 units but for 1999, it rose to 3,342 units, an increase of 35%. Volvo, one of the significant makes in this segment, had a share of 19.2% and this year, it has already reached the 20% level in the first quarter.
“We are confident that Volvo can achieve at least 25% of the luxury car segment in Malaysia this year as we can see the country’s economy recovering rapidly and consumers’ confidence is also higher these days,” said Lena Olving, Managing Director of Volvo Car Malaysia Sdn Bhd.
In volume terms, she said that the number would “definitely reach 1,500 units this year and the current and coming product programmes would give us an opportunity of easily reaching 3,000 units per year”.
However, it is known that the assembly plant in Shah Alam, Selangor, has not been able to supply cars to customers as speedily as expected and although there were 650 orders to date, the company was only able to deliver 343 units.
The older generation 940/960 models have been phased out for some time and today’s range available locally consists of the S40 and V40 which are assembled locally. Volvo Car Malaysia also takes orders for the imported C70 Coupe (the car used by ‘The Saint’) as well as the S80 flagship. The S80 is to be assembled in Malaysia later this year.
In connection with the expected sales growth, Federal Auto Holdings Bhd (FAHB), the dealer of Volvo cars in Malaysia, plans to invest in sales outlets and after-sales service centres. According to its Cham Heng Lee, its Managing Director, the company plans to spend between RM5 million and RM10 million to build two more new sales outlets in the Klang Valley.
With Ford having acquired Volvo in its group, studies are being conducted worldwide to see how Volvo and Ford organisations can have synergistic relationships to lower operating costs. In Malaysia, discussions are ongoing between FAHB and AMIM Holdings, which distributes Ford vehicles, on the possibility of collaborating on after-sales services. However, there is no likelihood of Volvo and Ford products being in the same showroom since the two brand have distinctly different market positioning.