Two glass doors with a sign stating Factory Delivery slide open, and Robin Fisher and Penelope Burgess step in to the bright showroom. They just came in from a ride with the visitors train around the Torslanda plant, they have snow on their shoulders and smiles on their faces. In front of them they have their brand new car. Factory Delivery Manager Hans Freij takes his time showing and explaining the features of the XC90 Excellence.
The South African visitors are part of the ongoing work to expand the Factory Delivery Experience way beyond its traditional scope.
Jonas Thesslund, Senior Manager Factory Delivery Experience, explains the core of the concept:
“Offering customers all over the world the opportunity to experience Volvo Cars and Sweden together with their new car is a great way to spread the story of what our brand stands for.”
The concept was born already back in 1956 when Volvo Cars started delivering cars to Swedish-American tourists who wanted to spice up a visit to their native country by bringing a car back to the United States.
Tourist and Diplomat Sales (TDS), as it was known by Volvo employees in previous years, gave expats and diplomats the opportunity to drive a Volvo in their new countries, while the majority of its customers were American tourists and military personnel who had their Volvos shipped home to the United States.
Nowadays, this is a global enterprise, also welcoming customers from Belgium, Germany, China and South Africa. Norway is next in line, UK and Spain are being investigated – and the fact that even a launch in Sweden is discussed emphasizes that the word ‘experience’ is at the core of the modern Factory Delivery Experience concept.
“We are expanding the offer to customers in new markets, as well as reviewing the content we offer. We want our customers to have a fantastic Volvo and driving experience in the country where their car was built,” says Jonas Thesslund. “Our close cooperation with Visit Sweden gives us excellent opportunities to tailor-make driving routes with access to some hidden gems.”
He adds: “This is the perfect way to bring customers closer to our company and everything our brand stands for. It can’t get much more designed around you than that.”
In 2017, almost 1,600 Volvo buyers were embraced by the Factory Delivery Experience. The figure has almost doubled in five years.
The visitors from Johannesburg are impressed with their visit and have no regrets over the decision to retire their beloved Range Rover in favour of an XC90. Robin Fisher says:
“Volvo has done a fantastic job turning its old, traditional image in South Africa into something fresh and very attractive. The guys at the dealer in Johannesburg have been amazing, and one lap around the block was enough to convince me that the XC90 has everything I expect from a luxury car. I have owned a lot of fine cars, so you can rest assured that I know what I’m talking about.”
He adds: “The hospitality here in Sweden has made us feel even more at home in the Volvo family. You guys are a delightful addition to the premium club.”
This year, Jonas Thesslund and his team already have eight groups of Chinese VIP customers scheduled to visit the Torslanda plant. And soon, those who buy Volvo models produced in China and the United States can enjoy factory delivery programmes in Chengdu and Charleston.
“The new visitor centre that is under construction in Chengdu will offer factory deliveries during 2018. For legal reasons, we may not be able to offer the international customers to drive themselves, but the programme will enable them to experience China, visit the plant and meet the skilled people who built their new car,” explains Jonas Thesslund.
A pre-study of the possibilities to export the Factory Delivery Experience to Charleston is also on the table.
“Just imagine how much fun it could be to take an epic road trip in the United States before you have your car transported to your home country,” says Jonas. “And no matter where the car is delivered, we will make sure the soul of Volvo and the spirit of Sweden are included in the package. Everyone goes home feeling appreciated and welcome as a core part of the global Volvo Cars family.”