The new company will officially launch in Sweden and America in 2019
Volvo has launched a new mobility company, with the brand’s Bond-sounding ‘M’ to offer on-demand vehicle subscription services in Sweden and the USA next year before expanding to other markets.
As the world’s car companies scramble to decipher what vehicle ownership will look like in the future, Volvo is backing the idea of its customers subscribing to access a fleet of on-demand vehicles, rather than owning their own. So much so that the Swedish brand has quit talking about global vehicle sales targets altogether, and is aiming for five million “direct consumer relationships” by 2025 instead.
While specifics are yet to be revealed, we do know M will also roll out its own technology with the ability to learn a customer’s specific needs and preferences, allowing it to offer the most suitable vehicle, rather than simply the closest one.
“The services currently available mainly offer alternatives to a taxi or public transit,” says Volvo Car Mobility CEO, Bodil Eriksson. “We’re focused on the way people use the cars they own, which sets us apart.
“We aim to provide a real alternative to that experience. It should enable us to live life on our terms, getting things done and maximising precious time. We see the opportunity to offer a premium experience.’”
M will hit the ground running, too. Volvo’s Swedish car-sharing outfit, Sunfleet, will be absorbed by the new company, including its fleet of 1700 vehicles and 500,000 annual transactions.
“Volvo Cars is becoming more than just a car company. We recognise that urban consumers are rethinking traditional car ownership. M is part of our answer. We are evolving to become a direct-to-consumer services provider under our new mission ‘Freedom to Move’,” says Volvo Cars president, Håkan Samuelsson.
“Mobility is undergoing a fundamental transformation and Volvo Cars is leading that change. The launch of M creates new sources of revenue for Volvo Cars and will be integral to the company’s ambition to build more than 5 million direct consumer relationships by the middle of the next decade.”
Volvo isn’t alone in preparing for a future in which car ownership looks very different to today. Mercedes, BMW and Porsche – among others – have all recently launched subscription services that bundle ownership costs (insurance, servicing etc) into a monthly payment that gives a customer access to one or more vehicles in a company’s fleet.