With the DPi formula already attracting the attention of several mainstream manufacturers little should surprise industry followers in the coming months.
One DPi programme we certainly did not expect to emerge however was from Swedish powerhouse Volvo!
Now owned by Chinese conglomerate Geely, Volvo seems set to shift from a strategic position that would have seen them move away from mainstream motorsport entirely to a heavily revised plan to utilise endurance racing to help relaunch the brand in North America.
The relaunch is set to involve a move from the infamously “Boxy but Safe” backbone of the brand to an entirely rejigged North American model range based around performance.
Key to the relaunch is a new and as yet unseen ‘extreme’ Sports Utility Vehicle which will provide the production based but high tech V8 to the race programme, a project internally named the 100F.
April-March sales figures showed signs of flagging after strong recovery and growth in previous years but the downturn seems to have pushed the company’s Chinese paymasters to take action.
“We’ve seen that other premium brands are having success in moving their customer base towards more profitable niche models through motorsports promotion and believe that our brand values would have strong appeal far beyond our core buyers in sectors such as education, architecture and dentistry,” a senior company figure told a recent brand development conference.
“If Lexus can do it then Volvo sure as heck can too,” he told an audience composed of marketing and branding professionals.
The DPi plan appears to be the favoured option after plans to brand a high profile Monster Truck effort fell foul of focus groups.
Instead the company now looks set to begin a search for a chassis partner ahead of a potential development programme that might begin as early as September this year.
If successful the Volvo programme looks set to join the factory backed Cadillac and Mazda efforts, plus the privately funded Ligier Nissan programme, and likely the much trailed Penske Honda DPi programmes on track at some point next season.
Footnote – yes, this IS an April Fool story! The clues, and they were legion! were the following:
‘Boxy but Safe’ is a reference to the 1990 movie ‘Crazy People’ where patients of a mental institution find success with truthful advertising.
‘100F’ spells what backwards?
It is highly unlikely that any company marketing executive would describe their own demographic as ” education, architecture and dentistry”
Don’t get me started on a potential Volvo factory Monster Truck effort!
Massive thanks though to Dan Hounsell (aka Dhani Hunsel) who produced the really very wonderful render of the Volvo – Hey my Swedish friends – it makes you wonder what could be achieved now doesn’t it?