Since vehicle supplies dwindled late last year, Volvo dealers are looking for increased deliveries of popular models during the first quarter of 2012.
Dealers lost potential sales as the availability of vehicles such as the XC60 and XC90 tightened in the fourth quarter, said Chip Ott, a Pennsylvania Volvo dealer and chairman of the Volvo Retail Advisory Board. Restocking dealership lots is the board's top priority.
"Inventory right now is the key," said Ott, owner of Volvo of Fort Washington in Fort Washington, Pa. "We were really hampered this [past] year with it."
Dealer inventory of the XC60 dropped to as low as a 21-day supply in October and November, according to the Automotive News Data Center. It had improved to 28 days by the end of December. Inventory of the XC90, which is going through a model changeover, dropped to a 24-day supply by the end of 2011.
Ott said he had just one unit of each of those models in mid-January.
"For the average buyer who has instant gratification in mind, it hurts us," he said.
The overall supply of Volvo vehicles was at 49 days at the end of December, bouncing back from a low of 34 days at the end of September. Ott said dealers would like to see vehicle stocks at a 45-to-60-day range.
Volvo officials have told dealers that more inventory is coming during the first quarter, though specific numbers weren't given, Ott said. Shipments of the 2013 XC90, carrying a mild cosmetic freshening, were expected to start in mid-to-late January. Factory executives also have promised more XC60s, Ott said.
"We have a good supply of those cars coming in, which is going to make a huge difference in our first quarter this year," Ott said.
But having adequate inventory throughout 2012 is still a dealer concern. Last year's shortages were exacerbated by the long summer shutdown at Volvo's plants in Sweden, Ott said. This year's shutdown shouldn't be "quite as devastating "as it was last year, he said.
Ott said: "It depends on what we can do when we have more cars. If we can sell all of those cars, maybe we're going to be in a similar situation, but we'll at least have sold a lot more cars to get to that."