New car sales in the UK are at their highest level in five years according to figures released by the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) last week, rising by 12.1% on the same month in 2012.
But several brands performed even better than average including Volvo, which recorded a surge of 21.57% – on a par with BMW (+21.76 percent), Audi (+15.91 percent) and Mercedes-Benz (+27.91 percent).
Much of the credit lies with the V40, which has broken Volvo’s sales records having sold more cars than its three predecessors combined, the C30, S40 and V50. The company doesn’t produce a sales split between the sporty R-Design and regular V40, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to say the V40’s dynamic appeal is attracting new buyers. Of the 2,082 V40s sold in September, 413 of those were Cross Country models with the remainder comprising standard and R-Design specified cars.
After the 2014 model year updates, established models like the XC60 are also proving popular, with a 38% increase in sales for September versus 2012. Across all markets the XC60 edges out the V40, with 10,757 versus 10,683 cars sold, with the V60 registering 5,969 cars.
Volvo credit some of this success to the new Drive-E engines introduced in January, although I do wonder how visible this is to the ordinary customer – when we visited a main city showroom last week, I saw little sign of the updates on the dealer signage.
The other stand-out news is how well the UK is performing against other markets; despite being the fifth largest region for Volvo on a year-to-date basis, in September the UK was second only to China with sales of 5,255 cars, followed by Sweden (4,701 cars) and the U.S. (4,188 cars). China recorded the highest growth of 48.6%, while Sweden remains Volvo’s strongest market with a share of close to 20 per cent.
Still to come in 2014 is the innovative new XC90 full-size SUV, set to introduce the car maker’s versatile new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform and a brand new design language. These were introduced at the Frankfurt motor show by Volvo’s new Design Director, Thomas Ingenlath, who penned the stunning 394bhp Concept Coupé.
As the company begins its journey towards an annual sales volume of 800,000 cars, the latest September results are a sign of meaningful progress.
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