Volvo will provide on-demand access to cars through a new mobility brand it calls “M.” The new service will be available in Sweden and the U.S. starting in spring 2019.
The initiative is separate from a vehicle subscription program Volvo launched last September, which is called Care by Volvo.
M is a new brand from Volvo Car Mobility, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sweden’s Volvo Car Group. Sunfleet, Volvo’s car-sharing service in Sweden, will be integrated into M next year.
Most Volvo models will be available to M users, a Volvo spokeswoman said.
“We are currently conducting extensive testing of M, which includes assessing the pricing model and which vehicles M will offer,” she said.
Rapidly changing technology, coupled with the emergence of affordable and abundant ride-hailing services, is pressuring the traditional car-ownership model.
“We recognize that urban consumers are rethinking traditional car ownership,” Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson said in a statement. “M is part of our answer. We are evolving to become a direct-to-consumer services provider.”
Instead of forcing consumers to buy one vehicle for every driving need, car-sharing programs let customers select vehicles for specific occasions — an SUV when extended family is in town, a convertible for a weekend getaway or a compact for the downtown commute.
Car-sharing services, such as Car2Go or Zipcar, allow members to book a vehicle on demand, unlock it with a mobile app and use it for as long as needed.
“Mobility is undergoing a fundamental transformation,” Samuelsson said. “The launch of M creates new sources of revenue for Volvo Cars and will be integral to the company’s ambition to build more than 5 million direct consumer relationships by the middle of the next decade.”
Volvo is exploring other alternatives to car ownership. The automaker’s Care by Volvo is a subscription-based, flat-fee service that includes vehicle maintenance, insurance and tire changes, as well as digital concierge services such as fueling, cleaning and even the delivery of packages to the car.
The service, unlike subscription programs from Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, does not allow members to swap vehicles during the two-year contract period.