For Immediate Release
GÖTEBORG (January 20, 2004) – 2004 was an excellent year for Volvo Car Corporation. Thanks to a ten per cent rise in total sales, 2004 reached a new record level at 456,224 sold vehicles. The previous record of 422,100 in 2000 was thus beaten by a wide margin.
“2004 was characterized by consistently strong sales successes and the road to last year’s record has been both exciting and very encouraging,” says Hans-Olov Olsson, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation. “By surpassing sales of 450,000 vehicles, we feel that our long-term goal of selling 600,000 vehicles a year is within reach.”
All the markets, with the odd exception, have done very well and significantly increased both their sales volumes and market share. This applies in particular to the high-volume markets of North America and in Europe where European sales increased by no less than 30 per cent.
(Figures in brackets indicate 2003 sales.)
Every third Volvo to North America
Almost one-third of all Volvo vehicles made in 2004 were sold in North America. Total sales in the NAFTA countries amounted to 154,000 (148,528) of which the US accounted for a new record of 139,155 (134,620) Volvo vehicles, an increase of 3.5 per cent. Canada accounted for 11,135 (10,750) vehicles, corresponding to roughly the same growth rate as for the US, while 3,356 (2,721) new Volvo vehicles were sold in Mexico.
The main reasons for the company’s success in North America are the XC90 – now available with a V8 engine – and the S40 and V50 models. No less than 39,630 XC90 SUVs were sold in the US in 2004.
Nordic markets keep market share lead
A total of 71,547 (64,705) new Volvo vehicles were sold on the Nordic market where Volvo Cars’ second-largest market in volume continues to be Sweden. A strong upswing in the company’s home market in the final weeks of 2004 moved total sales to 51,464 (47,928), an increase of 7.5 per cent over the previous year. This resulted in the company maintaining its market share of 20 per cent.
Norway accounted for the largest per centage increase of all Nordic countries, with an increase of 53 per cent. In terms of volume, this corresponded to 6,494 (4,241) vehicles. In Finland, 10,076 (9,284) new Volvos were sold, while in Denmark the figure was 3,513 (3,252).
Top three markets in Europe for market share:
Sweden 20.1 per cent
Finland 6.8 per cent
Norway 5.6 per cent
Europe fast forward
All the markets in Europe have moved ahead. The fight for third place is traditionally between Britain and Germany. For 2004, Britain won with 40,159 Volvo vehicles, a slight increase of approximately three per cent. Germany, however, made a huge comeback after a dip in 2002 and 2003, with an increase of more than 25 per cent over the previous year’s 30,285. Sales in Germany registered 38,085 Volvos despite tough competition.
Of the larger European Volvo markets, Belgium accounted for the largest percentage increase. A rise of just over 37 per cent also brought a new Belgian sales volume record of 12,929 (9,426) vehicles. France’s increase to 11,989 (8,775) vehicles was a rise of almost the same magnitude, 36.6 per cent.
Other major high-volume markets include Italy with 19,390 (18,416) vehicles, the Netherlands with 19,225 (16,204) and Spain with 15,925 (14,034). Greece registered the single largest increase of Volvo vehicles sales in any market with a 67 per cent jump from 1,344 to 2,240.
Japan against the trend and Asia Pacific steady
Japan is the only major Volvo market that bucked the sales trend last year. This can be partly attributed to the delayed introduction of the new S40 and V50. Sales in 2004 totaled 13,919 (14,755), a drop of 5.7 per cent.
The countries in the Asia Pacific area, Oceania and South-East Asia have all maintained their positions without any dramatic changes. Sales growth in China – forecasted by the industry as an emerging growth market – slowed somewhat in the second half of the year, with a final result of 2,609 (2,516) vehicles.
All told, the VCAP markets accounted for 13,152 (12,065) new Volvo vehicles.
Other overseas markets administrated by the Volvo Car Overseas Corporation (Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, the former Soviet republic, etc.) varied considerably in volume and growth, but the total figure was 16,679 (13,838) vehicles. The group’s largest markets in volume are Russia and South Africa.
Russia maintained its sales volumes from the previous year with 5,005 vehicles against 4,991 in 2003, and it also retained its 20 per cent share of the segment. South Africa’s 4,602 (3,111) new vehicles, on the other hand, represent a massive 47.9 per cent increase.
Turkey was responsible for an even larger percentage increase. 1,971 Volvo vehicles sold in 2004 represents an increase of no less than 57.9 per cent over the previous year.
Volvo Cars’ ten largest markets in 2004:
USA 139,155 (134,620)
Sweden 51,464 (47,928)
UK 40,159 (39,135)
Germany 38,085 (30,285)
Italy 19,390 (18,416)
Netherlands 19,225 (16,204)
Spain 15,925 (14,034)
Japan 13,919 (14,755)
Belgium 12,929 (9,426)
France 11,989 (8,775)
XC90 – the best-selling Volvo model
In its second full calendar year on the market, the Volvo XC90 became the company’s best-selling model. Thanks to the sales successes of the XC90 during its first year, a decision was made in 2003 to increase production from about 65,000 to more than 90,000 XC90s a year, resulting in 2004 sales reaching 84,032 (62,177) vehicles. Together, with the recently introduced V8 engine, Volvo Cars expects sales in 2005 will exceed 100,000 vehicles.
All-Wheel Drive has become a huge success for Volvo’s vehicles. In 2004, no less than 143,000 Volvo vehicles were sold with AWD or nearly one in every three Volvos.
The new S40 and V50 models also sold well with more than 100,000 deliveries around the world in 2004.
The five best-selling Volvo models in 2004 were:
XC90 84,032 (62,177)
V70 74,656 (83,359)
S60 73,121 (90,910)
S40 (new) 53,085 -
V50 47,743 -
Production in 2004
May 2004 saw production of the last generation S40 and V40 come to an end at the NedCar factory in Born, Holland. Volvo Cars thus ceased its 32 year operation in the Netherlands. The last car built, the millionth iteration in the S40/V40 series, was a V40 that was donated to charity.
Volvo Cars’ main production of vehicles is now concentrated in the company’s two factories in Torslanda in Göteborg (which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2004) and Ghent in Belgium, source for the new S40 and V50. Both factories have implemented major production increases in 2003 and are now capable of greater production capacity. At present, the capacity limits are 190,000 in Torslanda and 270,000 in Ghent. The long-term goal is for each factory to be able to handle 500,000 vehicles a year if demand requires.
The Uddevalla factory, where the Volvo C70 convertible is made, is now owned and operated jointly with Pininfarina Sverige AB (60 per cent ownership) and Volvo Cars (remaining 40 per cent). Uddevalla will also manufacture Volvo’s next generation convertible.
In addition to these factories, Volvo Cars has assembly facilities in South Africa, Thailand and Malaysia.
Volvo Cars manufactured a total of 460,000 vehicles in 2004.
Approximately one in every two Volvo vehicles sold in Europe is powered by a diesel engine. In 2004, Volvo Cars expanded its diesel engine range with two new four cylinder powerplants with displacements of 1.6 and 2.0 litres, respectively. Both engines are the result of a joint development with Ford/PSA.
The Skövde engine factory announced in December that Ford Motor Co. will locate production of the four-cylinder 2-litre version there. In return, Volvo’s six-cylinder petrol engine, previously made at the Skövde factory, will be transferred to Ford’s Bridgend factory in Britain.
The year of the concept car successes
In 2004, Volvo Cars presented no less than three concept models. The one that generated the most headlines was the “Your Concept Car” – YCC. This car, planned and developed by a group of women engineers at Volvo, was unveiled to the world at the Geneva motor show. With its gull-wing doors and innovative technical and design solutions, it generated significant attention.
Just as its name suggests, the “tandem” concept car seats occupants one behind the other. It was shown in connection in May at the Volvo Monitoring & Concept Center in California. Tandem is a feasible electric-car concept for commuters in increasingly congested and environmentally vulnerable metropolitan areas throughout the world.
Environmental consideration and dependable futuristic mobility were also the theme of the 3CC, a three-seat electric car with an outright sporty character. Environmental suitability and safety were coupled with thrilling design and entertaining driving properties. The 3CC participated in the Michelin Challenge Bibendum eco-car competition in Shanghai, and took home no less than five gold medals and the prize for best design.
Product news in 2004
Concrete model news in 2004 included upgrades of the S60, V70 and XC70 for the 2005 model year. Unveiling of the updated models coincided with presentation of BLIS – a system that monitors a car’s blind spots, alerting the driver if there are vehicles entering, leaving or occupying the blind spot.
At the Paris motor show in September, Volvo Cars revealed an entirely new 4.4-litre V8 engine producing 315 hp (311 in North America) that will be introduced in the 2006 XC90 in Canada. The engine is characterized mainly by its compact dimensions, its fuel efficiency and refined technical solutions for low emissions.
At the end of 2004, Volvo Cars announced that within one year, both the S40 and V50 will be available in the Swedish market as Flexifuel models running on E85 fuel (85% ethanol/15% petrol). The S60, V70 and S80 models will continue to be offered in Bi-Fuel configuration on several European markets.
“The strength of the Volvo brand is immense and it is continuing to grow,” concludes Hans-Olov Olsson. “The respect which Volvo Cars is met with and the determination, enthusiasm and dedication that characterizes the company’s operations all help make my job one of the most rewarding in the world.”
Many awards for VCC
Volvo vehicles have been awarded many international prizes and awards during 2004.
Canada: Best New Sport Compact, Automobile Journalists Association of Canada; Austria: Best Car Middle Class, Auto Revue Readers' poll; Belgium: Lease car of the year/ Overall best choice, ING Car Lease; Germany: „Goldenes Lenkrad” (V50), „Bild am Sonntag” paper (Golden Steering wheel); Italy V50 L’Automobile più Bella del Mondo “The Most Beautiful Car in the World” Automobilia organization and magazine; Russia: S40 Best Buy, Vybor Za Vamy/Avtomobily Magazine; The UK: S40 Compact Car Executive 2004, Auto Express New Car Honours; The US: S40 El Mejor Auto de Año 2004 "Car of the Year Award", Automundo Magazine (US Hispanic)
China: S80 T6 Gold medals for best acceleration, brakes and emission levels, Michelin Bibendum Challenge for environmental vehicles; The US S80 AWD Best Sedan in Class over $30,000, New England Motor Press Ass.
Canada: Clé d’or, l’Annuel de l’automobile 2005; Germany: Best imported SUV, Auto Trophy of Auto Zeitung; Malaysia: Best Large SUV of the Year 2003/2004, Autocar Mag (ASEAN edition); Middle East: SUV of the Year 2004, Wheels & Gear Pan Arabic Mag.; Saudi Arabia: 4x4 Award 2004, Saudi Auto Pan Arabic Mag.; Thailand: XC90 2.5T Car of the Year Standard SUV category/ T6 Car of the Year Luxury SUV category, Grand Prix Group (organizer of Bangkok Motor Show); The UK: 4X4/SUV Award 2004, Auto Express New Car Honours; The US: Best Luxury SUV of the Rockies, Rocky Mountain Automot. Press.; Best SUV in Class over $30,000, New England Motor Press Ass.; Best Luxury Cross-Over SUV, Smart Money Magazine
In Sweden, Volvo Cars was voted most attractive future employer by technologists. Internal magazine Agenda was awarded the “Swedish Publishing Prize” for best publication to employees by media company Popular Communication.
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