GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Consumers can order a Volvo on the Internet beginning 1 July.
The pilot program in Brussels is believed to be the first test of allowing a customer to complete a sale on the Internet, rather than through a dealer.
In most other cases, customers can specify vehicles on the Internet, but they must go to a dealer to buy the car.
In the Brussels experiment, customers will be able to specify and order a vehicle and obtain financing and insurance rates. Delivery will take three to four weeks.
Hans-Olov Olsson, Volvo Car Corp. market area president for Europe, said customers will eventually be able to specify home or factory delivery.
'This is to offer the Volvo customer an alternative,' Olsson said. 'We are not eliminating the dealer from closing the deal.'
A similar program called 'Volvo Net' will debut in the USA on the same date. Customers will be able to design their vehicles on the Internet and obtain insurance through Volvo's US insurance partner, Liberty Mutual.
Volvo will then advise consumers which dealerships will give them the best deal, said Jenny Genosa, interactive marketing manager for Volvo in the USA. As in Europe, Volvo will explore home delivery during the second phase of the US program. 'Due to laws, we cannot sell a customer a car like in Europe,' Genosa said.
In Europe, Volvo plans to cut its 1,000 dealers by 25-30 percent by 2000, giving the remaining dealers larger territories.