Volvo confirms plans for ‘direct sales’ to buyers, but has yet to set a date

UK will begin new system next month, with Ireland to follow later

Buying a car is getting a lot easier

Eddie Cunningham

​Volvo in Ireland will switch to a radical 100pc direct and online sales model, but it has not yet said when its cars will be sold the new way.

The company said there is no set date, but insisted the different way of buying is very much in the pipeline.

Its confirmation to the Irish Independent was sparked by the fact that the brand in the UK will be the first to adopt the new sales system, starting next month.

Basically, it means Volvo will sell cars directly to buyers at fixed prices rather than wholesale to dealers, as has been the tradition.

As soon as the UK operation is fully up and running, the “transformation” will be gradually introduced to more markets across Europe, the company said. It looks like Sweden is the next market earmarked for the switch.

In response to queries about the plan for here, Volvo Ireland said in a statement: “There is no set date for Ireland just yet.

“Our retail partners are aware that it is on the horizon and we will ensure that our retailer network is both consulted and kept fully up to date throughout the process.”

Significantly, the move will not result in the closure of the Volvo Cars retailers.

Instead, the retailer network will still take care of the likes of servicing, the brand said.

Confirming that, a spokesperson for Volvo Ireland said: “The retailers will continue to be instrumental in delivering a good offline experience, assisting consumers throughout their journey, including research, test drives, delivery and service.

“This commercial transformation is crucial to our long-term ambitions and growth as a company as we aim to be fully electric by 2030 and create more meaningful relationships with our ever-growing customer base.

“With our move to the direct and online sales model, our ambition is to create the best possible consumer experience – online and offline – delivered to a lower overall cost.”

The company has claimed elsewhere that the direct system will offer “greater clarity” to the customer as far as pricing is concerned and what is included in their purchase and delivery times.

Volvo has long been in preparation for this move, which really puts the prospective buyer in the driving seat.

The pandemic gave buyers and retailers a great sense of the ability of online interfacing and how it could transform the way they approached the whole exercise of selling and buying a car.

With forecourts closed, inventive sellers and buyers found a way of getting deals over the line – often on the back of a short test drive.

Indeed, there were cases where people physically sat in the car for the first time only after they had done the deal and were taking it home.

In other cases, cars were delivered without a test drive, with details of spec agreed in advance.

It has certainly broken down psychological barriers about how we are going about buying a car, although a majority of prospective buyers with many brands have gone back to the old way of visiting a garage at least once.

Now they do so loaded with information delivered by and gathered from brand websites.

It will be interesting to see how Volvo’s system works here when it gets up and ­running.

Skoda will go all out and give its electric Enyaq the posh treatment

S​koda has announced it is to make a luxury version of its electric Enyaq SUV, and it will be called after the company’s founders, Laurin & Klement (L&K).

It has L&K special exterior and interior design elements and a “comprehensive” range of standard equipment on board.

Skoda says there are significant technical upgrades too.

The rear-wheel-drive Enyaq L&K 85 and Enyaq L&K 85x with all-wheel drive have a system output of 285PS. As such they will have an increased range of up to 570km.

Battery charging times from 10pc to 80pc will take as little as 30 minutes.

The Enyaq L&K is the first Skoda to have a new user interface with updated graphics.

Technical upgrades will subsequently be used in the other models of the series.

The latest ME4 vehicle software will be included in all Enyaq family models produced from later this year.

Standard spec includes full LED matrix headlights and specific 20-inch and 21-inch alloys.

How something as tiny as taking a sip of water can send you off course

​It’s strange how even the simplest thing can affect your driving.

Something as small and innocuous as taking a sip of water from the bottle can send you off course.

It happened to me recently as I was mooching along in tight city traffic.

I reached out, without taking my gaze from the road, but there was nothing in the cup-holder.

I had put the bottle in the slot in front of the one I thought I’d left it in – and where I usually leave it.

Silly of me, of course, but I had – instinctively – to glance down and sideways to get the bottle.

And that took my eyes off the road for a second or two, which perturbed me.

Luckily, I was travelling slowly and came to no harm. However, as I say, I was amazed and a bit disturbed at how such a simple thing could affect my driving.

Distraction of any sort is dangerous – we normally blame screens and infotainment displays. But danger lurks in many areas.