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The Mercury Cars Guide : May 8th 2010
24--- Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, May 8, 2010 Prestige brand expands borders SIGN OF TIMES: Volvo's Lex Kerssemakers says the new Chinese partnership is key to the Swedish car maker's survival. While Volvo was recently bought by Chinese car manufacturer Geely, the brand is expected to retain its Swedish culture. Neil Dowling reports Sweden is a country with nine million people and where we have a 20 per cent market share. But in Sweden, we are unlikely to grow much bigger. With Geely, we have been given the chance to greatly expand our borders' Volvo's head of overseas markets, Lex Kerssemakers VOLVO is being stretched, crossing on a bridge be- tween past and future owners, while recognis- ing the importance of maintaining strong Swedish roots. But its head of overseas markets, Lex Kerssemakers, is not concerned about the current transitions. ''Partnerships are the key to Volvo's survival,'' he said. ''But we must maintain our Swedish culture --- it's what the customer wants and its the way we do business''. Outwardly, it's a difficult balance. Volvo has been sold by Ford for $2 billion to one of China's biggest automotive groups, Geely. The deal is signed late this year, so Mr Kerssemakers said Volvo was now ''in between owners''. ''The arrangement with Geely will be similar to our 10-year ownership by Ford,'' he said. ''There were then fears that Volvo would be rebadged as Fords. We managed to maintain our identity. ''I think it was long the case that people didn't know who owned us. Similarly, I think, that will happen with Geely. ''It is very definite that there will be two car companies --- Geely and Volvo --- that will be structured totally separate under one holding company.'' Geely has appointed a former Volvo chief executive, a Swede, to head the company and to Mr Kersse- makers, that's a clear signal that it intends to keep Volvo totally Swed- ish. He said it was clear that within five years, Geely and Volvo will share technology. ''After all, $2 billion buys a lot of experience,'' he said. ''Geely is a very dynamic company that is quickly moving ahead. They develop so fast and are extremely eager to learn. ''Sweden is a country with nine million people and where we have a 20 per cent market share. ''But in Sweden, we are unlikely to grow much bigger. With Geely, we have been given the chance to greatly expand our borders.'' Volvo already has a presence in China as a prestige brand. It makes the S40 and a long wheel-base version of the S80 in China. Mr Kerssemakers said that within about three years it was possible that Volvo could make all models there for the Chinese market.''But, looking at the potential in China, it would be very unlikely that we could export from those factories,'' he said. Partnerships also extend to Volvo's future wave of vehicle tech- nology. It recently entered into partner- ship with Sweden's biggest elec- tricity supplier, the Swedish Energy Agency, to develop an electric car concept. The first concept is an all-electric model, the C30 Electric Vehicle, that has a range of 150km and is powered by an 82kW motor with lithium-ion batteries that charge in under eight hours. ''This year we will make 50 of the cars for trial,'' Mr Kerssemakers said. ''The partnership with SEA is beneficial to both of us. ''We all know that oil is running out. We need to find effective alterna- tive solutions. ''We know what the alternatives are, we just have to explore them. ''If we don't do it now. we'll never be ready in five years time.'' Mr Kerssemakers said the only fault with electric cars was the batteries. He sees one possibility as a car that is driven by electric motors yet has an onboard generator to charge the batteries. It is only one of the future vehicles being trialled by Volvo now. ''In 2012 we plan to have an electric vehicle with an onboard generator that will consume less than 1.5 litres/100km of diesel,'' he said. ''But we are working on other technology. We had compressed natural gas models in Sweden but we had no assistance from the govern- ment to continue development. ''We have ethanol-fuelled cars, pet- rol, diesel and are developing hy- brids. ''I don't see there will be one solution in the way forward. ''As a small car company we have to jump on as many routes as possible. So it is very good for us to be a part of companies such as Ford and Geely.'' Closer to home is the 2-litre four- cylinder GTDi engine that Volvo is rolling out in selected markets. ''There is a good market for this engine that has fuel efficiency and high torque --- even up against our five-cylinder turbo,'' he said. ''This GTDi engine has 149kW and 300Nm of torque which makes it as powerful as our 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine. ''It also gets 7.9 litres/100km, has emissions of 184g/km CO2 and yet when fitted to our S80, will acceler- ate to 100km/h in only 7.9 seconds. ''The engine will first be launched in countries that offer tax incentives for sub-2-litre engines --- China, South-East Asia, Japan and the Netherlands.'' In Australia, there will be continu- ation of the 2-litre turbocharged four- cylinder engine. ''Now we have launched DriveE variants that include start/stop --- probably the most efficient way to reduce fuel consumption,'' he said. ''It is an absolute lead. The DriveE C30 manual gets 3.8 l/100km and 99g/km CO2 emission from a 1.6-litre turbo-diesel. ''And it's an engine that can go into anything we make. ''There's a lot of life left in petrol, so there are developments of the three- cylinder engine and the move to electrification. ''When we expand, it will be downwards [engine and body size].'' Mr Kerssemakers believes hybrids are a ''rather expensive solution'' and that diesel engines were becom- ing ''difficult'' to meet future Euro-5 and Euro-6 emission standards. ''Cost will ultimately define the best solution.'' Volvo is now making an XC60 with 2WD that has very low emissions which is becoming available in most markets. Volvo Car Australia boss Alan Desselss said the XC60 ''could be brought into Australia tomorrow''. It's being evaluated now. Volvo sales in Australia are ex- pected to go to 7000 next calendar year, up from 4652 in 2009 and 5000 in 2010. ''Vehicles such as the new S60 [due soon] and XC60 2WD will help lift that. The only threat is supply,'' said Mr Desselss. ''I think we have the right mix, once the S60 is launched, to produce strong sales. ''The S60 will give us credibility in the sedan market --- an area where we haven't for a long time really been seen as being strong. We have been considered as an SUV com- pany. But we think the S60 will return sedan buyers to our show- rooms and there's a good chance that that traffic will flow into the other sedans, the S40 and S80.'' www.djmotors.com.au firstname.lastname@example.org Glenorchy 275 Main Road, Glenorchy Phone: 6213 3315 Brian Anning 0418 531 853 Chris Wakefield 0400 635 446 Allan Gebel 0428 729 659 Hobart 1a Brisbane Street, Hobart Phone: 6213 3300 Warren Amos 0417 544 829 Jason Spong 0408 473 756 Easy finance available with DJ Financial Services †To approved business clients only, with a $2,500 deposit over five years with a 30% residual payment. Interest rate 11.2%. $8.50 per day† $15 ,990 DRIVE AWAY • Cruise Control • Remainder of the 3-year/100,000km warranty • Six Available Hatches and Sedans 09 NISSAN TIIDA SCOOP PURCHASE! • Automatic • Under 30,000km • Dual Airbags • ABS brakes REDUCED!
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