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Volvo certified plan offers free satellite radio

When Volvo dealers buy 2007 S40 cars that have been retired from rental service, the automaker gives the dealers portable global positioning system navigation units.
To promote sales of certified used vehicles, Volvo Cars of North America Inc. plans to offer free satellite radio service.

Starting this summer, buyers of certified Volvo cars and trucks with factory-equipped Sirius satellite radios will get six months of free service, says John Lee, Volvo's pre-owned car line manager.

General Motors and American Honda Motor Co. Inc. have had similar promotions. But those offers generally were for three months of free service.

Lee says the radio subscriptions will help Volvo's certified program distinguish itself from competitors.

"We have a low budget, but we were named the top luxury CPO program by IntelliChoice," an industry analysis firm that ranks certified programs, Lee told Automotive News. "I'd like to continue that by leveraging what we have available and improving the program."

Last month, Volvo sold 2,444 certified vehicles, up 44.2 percent from April 2007. From January through April 2008, Volvo sold 8,821 certified cars and trucks, up 20.5 percent from the year-ago period.

Overall, the industry sold 156,450 certified vehicles in April, up 15.1 percent from the year-ago month. In the first four months of 2008, the industry sold 578,297 certified units — up 4.3 percent from the same period of 2007.

Lee says Volvo is selling more certified vehicles because the uncertain economy is causing many consumers to turn to high-quality used vehicles as an alternative to buying new cars and trucks.

Lee also cites improvements to Volvo's certified program. Through June, Volvo's captive finance company is offering 1.9 percent financing on certified sales of S40, V40, V50 and XC90 models.

Volvo also is giving dealers portable global positioning system navigation units when they buy 2007 S40 cars that have been retired from rental service. Some Volvo dealers are including the devices when customers buy certified vehicles, Lee says.

The systems have a retail value of $250 apiece. Volvo has distributed nearly 1,400 of the devices, Lee says.

Volvo's certified program has shifted its entire advertising budget to the Internet, Lee says. But Volvo benefits from other brands' broadcast and print ads that promote used-vehicle certification, he adds.

Says Lee: "Consumers know about CPO. They come to Volvo retailers or go to our Web site to learn more about what our program offers." 

You can reach Arlena Sawyers at asawyers@crain.com

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