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Volvo: Now that we need you.

There was a time in America when you could tell what people's politics were just by looking at them. Long hair meant you were a Democrat. Wing-tip shoes, you were a Republican, and so on.

This even went as far as to what kind of car you drove. A Lincoln was most likely to have a Nixon sticker on the bumper. A Volkswagen bus, a peace sign. But a Volvo, a Volvo meant you cared. You wanted to clean up the environment, quit wasting natural resources, bring our troops home in an orderly fashion. You believed things should be built well and sold for the price that allowed the maker to make a profit, and the buyer to feel he or she had gotten a good value.

Volvo people cared about safety--a lot. Remember the Volvo ad with the stack of cars and the headline: "Are you in the market for a hardtop?" Straight forward, to the point, demonstrating instead of just promising.

It is simply amazing that, with millions and millions of two-ton bullets flying all over this country at 80 mph (oh, yes you do) that people, let alone automakers, don't talk about it more.

Volvo used to say, “Let’s think about this for a moment.” Now it’s “Me, too!”

Volvo just introduced a V-8 engine, about a month before gas prices passed $3.00 a gallon. Volvo has commercials showing its cars racing down the side of a mountain, comparing them to luges and sky divers. Somewhere on the road during a Swedish snowstorm (or more likely a Michigan snowstorm), Volvo has lost its way.

Now is the time we need Volvos, maybe more than ever in American history. We need fuel efficient cars that are big enough for growing American families. Cars that don’t guzzle. We need cars that can stand up to the dangerous speeds and bad manners of the American Interstate road system. We need cars that will last long after the payment book has been emptied and thrown in the trash. V-8’s we got. Rushing down mountains, we got. What we don’t have enough of is what Volvo is supposed to stand for. Value. Level-headedness. Sensibility. For the environment and conservation, and safety, safety, safety.

There hasn’t been a really sporty Volvo since they had a two-seater back in the 70’s. It didn’t sell because people didn’t want a sporty Volvo. Have you ever seen a Porsche ad pushing safety? Even if they are safe, who cares?

Can you mix sporty and safe? Yes. Acura is doing it. But they have a 15-year history of being nice looking and sporty; safety is now an add-on. They will soon be what Volvo used to be: the safe car. But they’ll also be better looking. Volvo could have lost its niche.

Volvo’s advertising seems to be trying and make us forget what a Volvo is: Safe, in every positive sense of the word. (To quote an old movie, “Boxy, but Good.”)

America needs a car for people who think, not a car for people who want to go faster than the speed limit or pretend they’re in the Olympics in Innsbruck. At least, not a Volvo that does.

“Volvo for Life” is a good slogan. Currently, it is a throwaway.

Note to Hans-Olov Olsson, CEO, Volvo Car Corporation: Do you have any idea what Ford is doing with “Volvo for Life”? Nothing. You might want to look into it.

Note to Ford: Why aren’t you using it? It is the unique brand discriminator against any auto brand on sale today. Is there no money to be made in safety? Does research show that all American families have a death wish? Why not drop it, or sell it to Honda?

Volvo, quit trying to run away from your heritage. The V-8’s are dying. So are too many people on our roads. Let’s bring some life, and some brains, back to the party.

If you don’t, before you know it, Acura will be the safe brand. And you’ll be in a dangerous place.

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yaksox's picture

You brushed by the main point just at the end there. Volvo used to be an independent company -- now they are owned by ford. I seem to remember something here recently saying that Ford is the least fuel-efficient of all manufacturers producing.

They don't seem to interested in tyring different approaches with their different brands - and I don't know what they're actually thinking about - but it sure isn't things like the peak oil phenomenon.

kurtberengeiger's picture

That Ford's cars are any less fuel-efficient than any other large automakers with a wide range of models is hardly true. The technology being used in automobiles is more or less universal.
And the idea that there is an automaker that doesn't take the "peak oil phenomenon" seriously is another relatively un-insightful statement. Of course all automakers take the oil situation very seriously. It