Volvo Stretches Out With The Chauffeured Car Sector

Martin Romjue
Posted on December 4, 2017
Volvo Car USA brought its 2018 S90 T5 livery sedan to LCT-NLA Show East in Atlantic City, Nov. 5-7. (LCT photos by Tom Briglia, Photographics Photography)

Volvo Car USA brought its 2018 S90 T5 livery sedan to LCT-NLA Show East in Atlantic City, Nov. 5-7. (LCT photos by Tom Briglia, Photographics Photography)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Volvo dealt with a desirable challenge for an exhibitor during two recent industry trade shows. Its staff ended most days worn out from the customer attention and foot traffic at its display.

“People were saying to us, ‘I was told I had to come and see the Volvo,’” said Mick Morris, manager of commercial accounts for Volvo Car USA, based in Rockleigh, N.J.  

Since Volvo debuted to the luxury ground transportation industry in March at the International LCT Show, it has upgraded its sleek, clean-lined S90 sedan for the 2018 model year. Although Volvo showcased the XC90 model as well during the Las Vegas event, it is working on adding the SUV-style vehicle to its livery line-up for 2019.

Longer Benefits
Most notably on the S90, the carmaker has added 4.5 inches to the wheelbase, expanding the rear seat compartment.

“The end result is fully realized in the added leg room,” Morris said. “The vehicle is a viable alternative to the traditional sedans offered to the livery industry. It’s a chance to distinguish a brand along a curbside of sameness at (airport) terminals.”

For clients, the 2018 S90 empowers them to operate multiple features from the rear seats: sunroof/sunshades, climate/fan, rear seat heaters (if equipped), windows, locks, and the front passenger seat can be moved in four directions.

Of course, Volvo must be uttered in the same breath as safety, a perennial selling point for livery services emphasizing their duty-of-care advantages compared to transportation network companies (TNCs).

Safety ROI
The livery spec S90 comes standard with all of Volvos latest safety features, such as collision avoidance, lane keeping, blind spot information, front and rear crash mitigation, large animal and pedestrian detection, and driver alert. “The systems are designed to avoid and or mitigate collisions and always protect the passengers, systems the other manufacturers charge for or don’t even offer,” Morris said.

That means fewer collisions, which for a fleet operation, directly translates to less repair costs and less downtime. The S90 also ekes out strong fuel economy performance, with the FWD version averaging mpg of 24 city/34 hwy /27 comb, exceeding average mpg of the Cadillac XTS and Lincoln Continental by five to seven mpg.

“Compared to the competition on fuel economy, the S90 directly translates to savings and profit,” Morris said. The S90 also comes with a 250 hp turbocharged engine that uses an 8 speed transmission to boost performance and fuel economy. All Volvo retail passenger vehicles now come standard with more fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engines.

Volvo manufactures its vehicles in Gothenburg, Sweden; Chengdu, China; and Charleston, S.C., which in 2018 will produce about 100,000 vehicles. All Volvo vehicles are built on one type of scalable platform architecture, allowing for consistent construction integrity. Structural safety features include: Ultra high-strength steel, including boron, which comprises 40% of the body weight. Volvo’s North American retailer network offers 340 dealerships, available to service vehicles in its chauffeured program.

With a longer wheelbase for the 2018 MY, the Volvo S90 offers a roomier ride and rear seat client controls.

With a longer wheelbase for the 2018 MY, the Volvo S90 offers a roomier ride and rear seat client controls.

Global Legacy

While Volvo is a newcomer to the U.S. luxury ground transportation market, it has gained substantial repeat commercial fleet business for more than 25 years, Morris said.

“We win and keep large pharma and executive fleet business year after year. You can’t keep a commercial customer if you don’t keep your promises, and your product and dealer service doesn’t meet the test.” Each dealership has a special sales ambassador (SSA) who ensures the dealership understands how to handle the commercial fleet business.

Volvo’s entry alongside other foreign chauffeured car players Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW enhance the choices for U.S. operators in distinguishing their service and brands in a service industry disrupted by TNCs.

“Operators spend time and money training their chauffeurs, implementing the newest technologies, building a reliable affiliate network, and then failing to distinguish their brand at the curb,” Morris said. “The Volvo S90 arrives as a stunning brand differentiator.”

Engine: 2.0L 4-cylinder, turbocharged
Horsepower: 250 @ 5,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic Geartronic
Fuel economy: 24 city / 34 hwy / 27 comb. (FWD); 23/32/26 (AWD)
Warranty: 3 years/150,000 miles
Cost: Under $43,000 starting livery price (MSRP $52,700+)
Turning radius: 38.7 ft. (FWD); 40 ft. (AWD)
Wheelbase: 120.5 in.
Ground clearance: 6 in.
Front/rear seat headroom: 37.8 in.
Rear seat legroom: 40.4 in.
Cargo capacity: 13.5 cu. ft.
Fuel tank capacity: 14.5 gallons

Related Topics: foreign vehicle brands, long wheelbase sedans, OEMs, sedans, Volvo, Volvo S90

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