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NewsWhile Others Struggle, Volvo Cars Canada Boss Sees 50 Percent EV Sales...

While Others Struggle, Volvo Cars Canada Boss Sees 50 Percent EV Sales Next Year

Volvo Canada expects to hit EV targets

  • Head of Volvo Cars Canada says co. “sees a path” to 50 percent next year

  • New models and buy-in from dealers boosting sales

Over the last few months, many automakers have been backing down on their EV plans. What were bold goals are now almost afterthoughts, as Ford, GM, Mercedes-Benz, and others say that the demand for electric vehicles isn’t what they had anticipated. But the first legacy automaker to announce its all-EV future says it is still on pace to meet one of the most aggressive goals in the industry. We spoke with Volvo Car Canada Managing Director Matt Girgis at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto to find out more.

Girgis has been in the top spot at Volvo Canada since 2019. He was at the helm here in 2021 when Volvo Cars announced that it would be fully electric by 2030. At the same time, the automaker set an ambitious goal that 50 percent of its sales would be EVs by 2025.

“It’s been a long journey from when we announced the 2030 [target],” Girgis said. “We brought electric cars to the market starting in 2022. We launched the XC40 Recharge and the C40 Recharge.”

2023 Volvo XC40 Recharge
2023 Volvo XC40 Recharge

“From 2022 to 2023, our sales more than doubled on fully electric cars. Which is great,” he said. “Our Recharge mix, so electric cars and plug-in hybrids, account for about 35 percent of our sales mix. From that standpoint, we’re more or less in line with what we expected to see in terms of growth.” Of that 35 percent, Girgis said that around half are EV and half are PHEV models.

Volvo Doesn’t See EV Market Shrinking

2024 Volvo EX30 | Photo : Christophe Mallette

What does he think about other automakers’ claims that the electric market is shrinking? Girgis said “based on what we’re seeing in our numbers today, we have grown EV sales year over year. We have great new product coming that we’re seeing good interest in. So I could say that I wouldn’t say we see it exactly in the same vein.”

So is 50 percent EV for next year still on? “At this point in time, we see a path there,” Girgis said.

He gave several reasons for the automaker’s confidence in hitting its ambitious targets. “We are bringing new product to market, some in segments that are a little bit untouched,” he said. Girgis referred to the B-segment of crossovers, where the just-launched EX30 EV fits, as being a big deal in Canada. Girgis said those new models will help the company reach its targets.

“We’re bringing next-generation technology to the marketplace, and we’re bringing it as standard [equipment],” he said, referring to advanced safety systems like the one found in the LiDAR-equipped EX90 crossover.

Working With Dealers to Improve EV Uptake

Volvo Cars Richmond, a lower-carbon dealership | Photo: Volvo

Girgis said that Volvo is seeing issues around accessibility, and that’s one thing holding back EVs. Accessibility includes affordability but also charging. To help fix charging, Girgis said that the automaker is working to find smart partnerships. “We want to lean into partners that are leaders in what they do and what we what they do best so that we can focus in on what we do best.”

As far as accessibility, Volvo is also not seeing a pushback from dealers on its EVs. That pushback is a sentiment that has a serious impact on other car companies. Dealers that don’t want to change will not help move customers into new tech.

“They’ve been part of this journey with us,” Girgis said of the company’s dealers. “They understand that this is where we’re going. They know they have a part to play in it. It took us two or three years before we actually launched [the EVs] in 2022 to work with our dealers to come up with a right solution. [One] that puts the customer in the center but also protects the retailer and manufacturer ecosystem. Together, we understand we need to evolve. We’re going to do it together.”

Part of that evolution includes a sales model change. Volvo Cars Canada is moving to a negotiation-free model. One that allows it to sell vehicles not only at stores but also online. Girgis said that the in-store transaction has “been a friction point in our industry.” He said that in the case of Volvo, both customers and dealers like the move to so-called transparent pricing. Getting dealers on board with no haggle pricing can be the hard part, but Girgis started his automotive career as a Ford dealer service advisor. He knows how things work at both the store and the automaker level.


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