Baltimore, Maryland, United States
According to a report in Reuters, the findings of an internal investigation conducted by Geely-owned Volvo is that its Chinese dealers vastly overreported their sales numbers in 2011, then even more vastly underreported their 2012 sales figures. About "half the dealers" out of the 151 total outlets gamed the system in order to get incentives for reaching volume objectives, falsely recording about 7,000 more units sold than was actually the case. Instead of 47,140 cars sold in China in 2011, the real number should have been 39,871.
Volvo corporate books a sale once it ships a car to a dealer, so that meant there were 7,000 more cars in inventory than there should have been. To restore the balance, the dealers underreported their 2012 sales while they unloaded those extra cars since, naturally, they couldn't claim the sale again. That made it look like sales declined by 11 percent in 2012, even though they actually increased year-on-year. The adjusted sales number for 2012 totalled 45,896.
Volvo has met with its dealers and told them to stop the deceitful practice. The discrepancies weren't so great that the company plans to restate its historic numbers, but from now on, it apparently plans to occasionally check inventory to make sure the numbers match and that it has a true picture of how individual models are selling.
There's something inescapably right about a Swedish car with a set of skis on its roof. It doesn't matter if it's a Jurassic-era Volvo Amazon, a Saab 900 Turbo, or even a Koenigsegg Agera R. Surely it's some sort of Scandinavian birthright... right along with immaculate complexion. The latest to carry on that tradition in fine form? The Volvo Concept XC Coupe, just released at this week's Detroit Auto Show.
The two-door, four-seat XC Coupe rolled onto stage here at Cobo pre-outfitted with a matching ski box, looking sharp on its 21-inch wheels. According to Volvo, the box isn't an afterthought - in fact, the XC Coupe's design itself was "inspired by modern sports equipment."
As for the rest of the concept's genetic makeup, at this point, we don't have much to go on. Volvo has admitted that the XC Coupe rides atop its new boron-steel-intensive Scalable Product architecture, but it has declined to outline any sort of powertrain details. We're not sure if this showcar has any production future, but we do expect for its design language to inform the next-generation XC90 crossover.
A number of companies are developing autonomous vehicle technology - Google and Audi come to mind - but Volvo is applying its work in the area to a particular usage case: parking. The Swedish automaker has the technology up and running in a concept vehicle, which it says can be dropped off at the curb by its owner and left to its own devices to enter and navigate a car park, then find and park in an available parking spot. Volvo says the process can even be reversed when the owner is ready to go, with the car leaving the car park on its own to meet its key-holder again at the curb.
The vehicle first interacts with Vehicle 2 Infrastructure technology, which places transmitters in the road itself to inform the car (and driver) if the self-parking service is available. The driver then hops out, activates the Self Parking function on his or her smartphone and then leaves the car to do its work. The car uses sensors, all seemingly hidden from view (an advancement of its own in this field), to autonomously navigate the car park, which includes interacting and adjusting to other cars, people and objects.
The technology used here builds off of Volvo's other work in autonomous vehicle research, namely the Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE) project in which the company managed to create a train of four cars autonomously following a lead truck at speeds up 56 miles per hour. Volvo says the first application of its autonomous research in a production vehicle will happen at the end of 2014 with some level of autonomous steering available in the next-generation XC90. See the system in action by watching the video below.