Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson sees a silver lining to the COVID-19 crisis: potentially more sales of the electric vehicles that the automaker has staked its future on.
Samuelsson, speaking to the Financial Times, predicts a surge in what he terms “revenge buying” as virus worries recede and consumers are finally able to do what they do best — shop.
“People are really tired of sitting at home locked in and they really want to go out and buy,” Samuelsson told the London-based newspaper, adding he hopes new-car buyers will be more interested in electrified-vehicle offerings.
Volvo builds the S60 sedan at its $1.1 billion campus off Interstate 26 near Ridgeville, and the automaker will roll out electric or hybrid versions of all of its models by 2024. The first all-electric vehicle, XC40 Recharge, will debut this year.
A survey by Cars.com showed 20 percent of respondents were considering buying a car because of COVID-19. The biggest reason is a fear of using public transit and ride-sharing services like Uber. Others cite the markdowns and incentives dealerships are offering because of slow sales.
Samuelsson said he thinks those consumers will want environmentally clean electric cars, adding “it would be naive to believe our customers come back into a showroom asking for diesel (or gasoline) cars.”
He wants the automotive industry to focus on the sale of electric cars, calling it a “waste of money” to incentivize “old world” cars, according to the Financial Times report.
“They should use the money to promote new technology as they were planning to do before,” he said.
But with Volvo’s U.S. sales down nearly 54 percent in April and a similar slump expected for May, Samuelsson admits he’ll take any kind of rebound in the coming months — electrified or not.
“I really hope that this will be the case because anything else would, of course, be a disaster for our business,” he said. “If this (COVID-19) triggers a year of recession or something, then you have to redraw everything.”
Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_