Presenting... Well, Nothing! 

Over the years, we have seen automakers invest millions of pounds in vehicle launches at prestigious automotive events around the world; usually presented alongside famous brand ambassadors on the biggest stage imaginable. This has been the failsafe option for brands unveiling their new products to the world, choosing a ‘bigger is better’ approach. However, as we move into the era of future mobility, automakers are trying to figure out modern marketing strategies that many technology giants have been following for years. And, through this, are no longer stuck on the traditional ideas that they once lived by.

Take Volvo for example; the Swedish automaker attended the LA Auto Show, now referred to as Automobility LA, but not in the way you would expect it to. The company merely displayed “This Is Not A Car” on its stand that, as you can guess, lacked any automotive presence at all. First and foremost, this reflects the massive disruption of the automotive industry, thanks to the influx of autonomy and new transport solutions on the horizon. I totally get the underlining message which Volvo wanted to portray, although this does seem a step too far. 

Before anything else, I must acknowledge that I am, like many other journalists, spotlighting Volvo within my Editor’s Note; which is the main goal of the company’s new marketing scheme. However, this is more about the state of the modern automotive industry, which is seeing automakers trying all sorts of techniques to propel themselves into the limelight - to the point where they won’t even bring their own products to shows. Gone are the days of jam-packed events full of executives and shiny cars. 

Automakers have had a hard time in recent years, pushed out of comfort zones by new players as consumers become attracted to different forms of transport, such as ridesharing and connected car technology. They are now also being forced to adapt to the growing demand of electrification which, thanks to government incentives and the rise of new players such as Tesla, is skyrocketing; not to mention the upsurge of autonomous technology as companies such as Google are making a huge impact on the transport sector. What was once merely an idea, has erupted in spectacular fashion, with automakers having to quickly progress from toying with the idea of a new business model to taking the plunge into the new world of subscription services, autonomous cars and electrification. 

Volvo says that this approach “will demonstrate its vision, redefining what a car can be,” illustrating that a car brand today is “more important than chrome, leather or horsepower.” Mårten Levenstam, responsible for product strategy at Volvo Cars, released a statement that read: “We want to demonstrate that we got the memo and start a conversation about the future of automobility. So instead of bringing a concept car, we talk about the concept of a car. We will not win the ‘car of the show’ award this year, but we are comfortable with that. Because this is not a car show.” What Volvo believes is a “powerful statement” is certainly ballsy; without physical products on display, did this backfire or will we see more of this at the Geneva motor show?

Alex Kreetzer

22-23 January 2019

Coventry University Technology Park

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Editor: Alex Kreetzer

Editor-in-chief: Peter Wooding

Circulation & Distribution Manager: Zoe Chapman

Additional Journalists: Shaun Hunter

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