Volvo Rolls Out Concept Car Site

Continuing its efforts to reach out to high-end consumers via the Web, Volvo Cars of North America unveiled a site dedicated to its concept cars — and its brand positioning.

The new Concept Lab Volvo site, which launched on Friday, showcases three of the Irvine, Calif.-based automaker’s recent designs, as well as the attention to safety and design that have become hallmarks of the brand.

The site focuses on the three prototypes — the Safety Concept Car, the Performance Car and the Adventure Car — as well as the technological and aesthetic innovations that went into each. Additionally, the site highlights available Volvo models that adopted many of the concept cars’ features — for instance, the Adventure Car ultimately became the automaker’s XC90, its first SUV.

The site also allows visitors to vote their opinion on design issues, submit questions, and to register for information on site updates and Volvo products.

Volvo’s also going after the auto aficionado set with the site, which delves into technical minutia. The auto manufacturer said it hoped to satisfy “car enthusiasts’ appetite for fresh, engaging information” with plans to add additional pages and interactive features around new concept cars and upcoming car shows.

The timing of the site’s launch comes just days before the XC90 and other new Volvo models are slated to be demonstrated at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

For some time, Volvo has been stepping up its emphasis on the Web as a tool to reach new and established customers — since Web demographics tend to skew toward affluent buyers, who not coincidentally represent the automaker’s target market.

In September 2000, Volvo launched its S60 sedan using primarily online media — a tactic untried in the automotive industry, but one that it said resulted in significant buzz and good sales. In March, the automaker followed up with a new campaign linking interactive television, wireless and e-mail marketing for the car.

“This initiative marks another interactive innovation for Volvo,” said Phil Bienert, Volvo North America’s manager of CRM, e-business and future product strategy. “From the first digital launch of a car in 2000 to the first multi-platform interactive television promotion in 2001, Volvo has dedicated itself to harnessing new technology.”

“The aim this year is to continue building relationships with consumers by giving them information and experiences they can’t find anywhere else, and letting them to react to it,” he added.

As with its earlier interactive efforts, Volvo went with Fuel North America, the integrated marketing unit of Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer Euro RSCG, its the agency of record.

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