Jason Johnston, Volvo Car Australia’s network development manager talks to Paint & Panel about the growth in its approved repairer network and plans for the future.
Volvo Cars has been very busy re-establishing a national network of approved repairers to support both its growth in sales and the wave of electric vehicles about to land on Australian shores. In fact, Volvo plans to phase out the sales of internal combustion engine cars in Australia by 2026, even sooner than its global target.
Back in 2017 when the original approved repairer scheme began to languish Volvo was selling in the vicinity of 4000 cars down under. Fast forward to 2022 and Volvo Cars sold 10715 cars with another double digit growth year on the cards for 2023.
Johnston had quite the task to re-establish the network. “Some of the shops in the original network had been sold, most of the agreements had expired or were expiring, and it was almost like starting from scratch,” he said. The original network had 16 approved repairers around the country, whereas the current network has 28 and there are still a few opportunities in the approved network to fill in.
Volvo Cars looks for collision repair businesses that are customer focused. It goes without saying that they will be well equipped, well located and have modern, comfortable customer facilities. While Volvo demands that repairers have the company’s electric vehicle decommissioning kits, it is not prescriptive about which alignment bench or welding equipment is required.
“Many of our network are already approved for other European luxury brands and so have good quality equipment and well-trained technicians,” Johnston says.
“We encourage our approved repairers to work closely with their local retailer. Approved repairers have access to the same technical information as our retail network. Of course, our retailer will refer customers to an approved repairer. Our customers understand the importance of keeping their car 100% Volvo and that the use of genuine parts in any repair or service is essential, especially when it comes to all the safety features performing as they were designed.
“Every new car owner is informed about the approved network, and we have literature in the car about what to do in case of an accident. We also have our own Volvo Cars Insurance product, which ensures choice of repairer and the use of Volvo genuine parts. We want every customer to feel like the car they get back after an accident is as good as when they drove it out of the Volvo retail facility on day one”, he says.
Volvo Cars has its own training centre in Sydney and the repairer network is trained here. “We’ve had great feedback about our training from the network. There is an assortment of cars with different powertrains including electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrids on site so we can demonstrate the procedure for preparing the car to be de-energised.”
Volvo doesn’t allow its independent repair network to de-energise the cars themselves but puts in place a procedure to prepare the electric vehicles for the retailer technician to undertake the task swiftly. Hence the required Volvo electric vehicle safety kit so that the authorised technician knows that everything they need will be on site.
Volvo has some innovative plans around the EV ownership experience including initiatives like building a battery cell recycling site in Australia. There’s even a plan that fully charged future EVs could provide power to the household.
Volvo has enjoyed substantial growth in sales and has recreated its approved repairer network. With EV models about to arrive it has also developed specific course delivered in its Sydney training facility.
This article first appeared in the September/October 2023 edition of the magazine.