Stretched Volvo S60 takes off in China

Stretched Volvo S60 takes off in China

Volvo says it’s sales growth in China can be attributed to increased public awareness of the brand, along with an expanding dealership network. However, what’s really moving Chinese Volvo sales could be the addition of 75mm worth of legroom to the S60 sedan.

For Volvo, the S60L marks the company’s entry into the long wheelbase mid-size luxury car market.

Mid-size luxury sedans such as Volvo’s S60, BMW’s 3-Series, and Audi’s A4 are popular amongst Chinese bureaucrats, young business executives, and a burgeoning middle-class, many of whom are being driven around by chauffeurs.

These customers live in the country’s overcrowded megacities, where space is limited and parking infrastructure is mediocre at best. This is why they have turned smaller sedans into downsized limos.

To address this trend, car manufacturers have introduced a slew of long wheelbase versions of their existing models. By adding 75mm of legroom to the S60, Volvo can now compete with other long wheelbase “China only” models, such as the Audi A4L and the BMW 3-Series Li.

The Chinese preference for the “L” over the regular S60 is telling. Since the S60L’s introduction last December, it’s outsold the regular S60 by 10,500 units to 285. Sales are so lopsided that a Volvo spokesperson told Business Insider that the S60L has “more or less replaced” the standard S60 in China.

The S60L also plays a significant role for the company globally. So far in 2014, Volvo has sold only 27,000 standard S60 sedans in all markets. But the “L” has achieved 40% of that volume — in just one country.

Although Volvo’s sales surge in China is significant, the company is still a far smaller operation than VW-Audi or BMW. In the first seven months of 2014, Volvo sold a total of 45,413 cars in China. In that same period, BMW sold 261,919 cars, while Audi sold 141,520 cars by April.

Nevertheless, the introduction of the S60L has finally enabled Volvo to satisfy an important Chinese market segment.

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