LUCA CIFERRI

Volvo pressures Germans in their home market

Luca Ciferri is Automotive News Europe's chief correspondentLuca Ciferri is Automotive News Europe's chief correspondent
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Volvo is giving its much bigger German rivals a tough fight in their home market in a key area: average transaction price for new cars. Volvo’s improvement shows that CEO Stefan Jacoby’s ambitious plan for the Swedish automaker is gaining traction.

Volvo ranked fourth in 2011 with an average transaction price in Germany of 35,039 euros, a 3.7 percent increase over 2010, according to the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg.

Volvo’s average new-car price was just 1,281 euros below Audi’s price, which rose a mere 0.3 percent to 36,320 in 2011.

BMW was No. 1 at 39,938 euros, narrowly ahead of Mercedes-Benz at 39,912 euros.

Volvo's ranking among the German premium brands in Europe’s largest market for high-end cars is exactly what Jacoby wants as he tries to double the carmaker’s volume to 800,000 by the end of the decade. Volvo aims for sales in Europe to rise 61 percent to 390,000 by 2020.

“A position in-between, meaning not being truly premium and losing more and more ground to competitors, is not a sustainable position for Volvo,” Jacoby told Automotive News Europe late last year. “We need to have a clear premium positioning and move the brand upscale.”

When it comes to pricing in Germany, Volvo definitely has a strong premium positioning. The gap between Volvo and the next ranked brand, Volkswagen, was 11,101 euros.

When it comes to sales in Germany, Volvo has a long way to go to be a true rival to the German brands. It sold 33,888 cars in Germany last year compared with 285,651 for Mercedes and 250,708 for Audi, according to the German motor transport authority (KBA).

Here are some other interesting findings from the CAR study.

• The average new-car transaction price in Germany rose 3.9 percent to 25,893 euros last year.

• Ford’s average price is about 2,150 euros higher than Opel’s (21,526 euros vs. 19,381 euros).

•  Hyundai’s average price is nearly 1,000 euros higher than Fiat’s (15,976 euros vs. 14,994 euros).

•  Nissan’s average price rose 13 percent to 20,123 euros, which was the biggest year-on-year gain of the 19 brands in the survey.

You can reach Luca Ciferri at lciferri@crain.com.

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