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Waiting for Volvo: Subscription Customers Wonder When XC40s Will Show Up

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 6/15/2018 David Muller
Waiting for Volvo: Subscription Customers Wonder When XC40s Will Show Up: Despite subscriber complaints about waiting, Volvo considers the program a success, claiming 92 percent of signups are new to the brand. Read more about Care by Volvo at Car and Driver© Car and Driver Despite subscriber complaints about waiting, Volvo considers the program a success, claiming 92 percent of signups are new to the brand. Read more about Care by Volvo at Car and Driver

There are consumers out there who have crunched the numbers and decided Care by Volvo is too good a deal to pass up. It’s not a lease or a purchase but rather a 24-month subscription to a brand-new 2019 Volvo XC40. The deal costs $600 per month, which includes insurance and some maintenance but not taxes or registration.

“I found this Volvo thing, and honestly I jumped on board pretty early,” Robert Cossin, a Michigan resident, told C/D. Cossin said he had already been fond of the Swedish brand but was lured to the subscription program by the basic math behind the $600-per-month cost, as well as the 15,000-per-year mileage limit, which is more than most leases allow. And he liked that the company is offering the ability to renew the subscription and get a new vehicle after 12 months. “I would love, in a year, [to] use a cellphone, use the Care by Volvo app, and say, you know, ‘Ship me a new one,’ ” he said.

a close up of electronics: Waiting for Volvo: Subscription Customers Wonder When XC40s Will Show Up© Car and Driver Waiting for Volvo: Subscription Customers Wonder When XC40s Will Show Up

To that end, Volvo plans to extend the Care by Volvo program beyond the XC40 and add the new S60 and V60 models. But first, Cossin and others need to get behind the wheel of the XC40s they signed up for at the beginning of the year.

Early subscribers C/D talked to have begun to grow frustrated, after first being told their cars were estimated to arrive in April but having received nothing as of early June. The program appears to be a victim of its own success, or maybe of the early popularity of the XC40. Probably both.

Benjamin Palmer, who ordered his XC40 subscription in February, was told it was estimated to arrive in late April. He still has not received the financing and insurance paperwork, and a Volvo concierge told him in mid-May that it would take “a couple months” before he got more information. “So, yes, it’s taken a long time,” he told us.

As correspondence with Volvo’s concierges has at times gone silent or been lacking in detail, Palmer and others have been pooling knowledge gleaned from online forums, eagerly waiting to hear if anyone has finally taken delivery of an XC40 under the Care by Volvo program. There have been rumblings of people in California getting their cars, and indeed, Volvo Cars CEO Håkan Samuelsson tweeted a photo on June 2 that shows a happy customer getting her XC40.

a group of people in a car: Waiting for Volvo: Subscription Customers Wonder When XC40s Will Show Up© Car and Driver Waiting for Volvo: Subscription Customers Wonder When XC40s Will Show Up

In other tweets, including some that tag C/D, customers have wondered aloud where their XC40s are.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Waiting for Volvo: Subscription Customers Wonder When XC40s Will Show Up© Car and Driver Waiting for Volvo: Subscription Customers Wonder When XC40s Will Show Up

Volvo spokesman Jim Nichols said that XC40s are being delivered daily in the past couple of weeks but said whether a subscriber gets one depends on where they live and when they signed up. In the state of New York, where Palmer lives, the wait could be a bit yet; Nichols indicated the company has not yet completed the paperwork process there. It’s going state by state to make sure it has regulatory approval, but Nichols stressed that any perceived holdups are no fault of the states.

For waiting customers, the company has begun to offer temporary transportation. Adam Fontaine, who lives in New York City and placed his order for an XC40 on January 31, has been offered a $60-per-day rental reimbursement, but hw said, “$60 in NYC is not going to get anything.”

Like Cossin and Palmer, he received a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in April, which he used to watch his subscribed-to car travel from Europe to a port in New Jersey, where it has been sitting since that same month. He said he has grown frustrated with the process but plans to continue waiting for a few more months. His urban living situation is what interested him in the subscription-based service. “I haven’t had a vehicle in over a year,” Fontaine said, adding that auto insurance for even something like a 10-year-old Toyota Camry “would be something like $300 [per month] just for liability. That alone is more than half the cost of the [Care by Volvo] program.”

Volvo has been working with Liberty Mutual on insuring subscribers. The insurer has set flat parameters that drivers have to meet, and basically they’re either in or they’re out, Nichols said.

While Palmer and Fontaine are still awaiting approval, Cossin is good to go and, aside from the wait, said he is content with the way Volvo has handled the process, noting the company’s help getting him into temporary rental cars.

Volvo’s Nichols said the company had always told customers the vehicles would be delivered in the spring. There are still a few days left for the company to hit that goal. In any case, Volvo already considers the program a success. “We’re very pleased with the reception of the program,” Nichols said, adding, “92 percent of the customers subscribing are new to the brand.”

It’s hard to argue with the level of interest. Nichols also said the automaker received a year’s worth of projected subscriptions in just three months. And if you ordered an XC40 through Care by Volvo right now, you probably wouldn’t get one until the end of the year at the earliest.

Nichols concurs that in some areas of the country-especially in cities with high insurance costs-Care by Volvo can be a good value proposition. However, he added, “It was never designed to be a value play. It was designed to be a convenience play.”

For some early subscribers, it sounds like that aspect is still a work in progress.

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