Walker off to a flyer
ABU DHABI, January 3 - Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) bade farewell to their home port for the hazardous Leg 3 on Saturday by leading the fleet out towards their eventual destination of China from under a blanket of fog.
Light winds are forecast for the first few days of a stage which is expected to take about three weeks before the six boats arrive in Sanya, China.
Few had reckoned on a thick fog for the leg departure from Abu Dhabi (1000 UTC) where the boats had spent Christmas and New Year.
It enveloped the course from early morning and stubbornly refused to shift, even under the normal hot midday sun.
Instead the teams had their work cut out even to see the turning marks through the murk before leaving the port where they had enjoyed such a wonderful break.
Azzam finished the in-port course after just under an hour (59min 34secs) as the sun finally began to poke through with Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) on their heels.
For Team Vestas Wind skipper Chris Nicholson (AUS) and his crew there must have been very mixed feelings as they waved their rivals farewell for the 4,642 nautical mile (nm) trip to Sanya.
Nicholson’s boat is now heading for a major repair job culminating in their hoped-for return to the race for the final two legs from Lisbon from June 7 following their grounding during the second leg on a reef in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
“The toughest moment for us will be the first night of the leg,” Nicholson told a news conference on the eve of the departure.
“That’s when you really know you’re in an offshore race. But we have a new target now – to concentrate on repairing our boat to return to the race.”
The third leg promises to be intriguing all the way but particularly during the Malacca Strait which separates the Indonesian island of Sumatra and Malaysia.
At some stages, it narrows to 1.5nm and is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
“It’s the most challenging part of the whole race,” Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) navigator Will Oxley (AUS) said on the eve of the leg.
“I'm pretty happy dealing with big waves and strong winds, but the complexity of dealing with a narrow channel, and a very large amount of shipping is what causes the problems.
“Some 300ft of steel coming at you at 20 knots is always concerning, particularly if you haven't got much control over your speed if there's not much wind.
“Then you have squalls, very violent squalls in the night, and there's lots of fishermen who are not showing navigation lights and have long nets. You can get tangled in the nets, or worse still, run someone over. So it's very stressful."
Team Vestas Wind: we’ll be back by June
ABU DHABI, January 2 - Team Vestas Wind has announced bold plans to rebuild their badly damaged boat and return to the Volvo Ocean Race by June.
The Danish team’s Volvo Ocean 65 was dramatically grounded on a reef in the middle of the Indian Ocean midway through Leg 2 on November 29.
Their nine-strong crew miraculously avoided serious injury in the 19 knot (35kpm) collision but the boat suffered extensive damage, especially to the stern.
However, it was retrieved from the reef just before Christmas and is currently being assessed in Malaysia by experts. It will then be transported by Race partners Maersk Line to Italy and then taken to Persico in Bergamo for repairing.
Skipper Chris Nicholson (AUS) told a news conference on Friday that the condition of the boat had built confidence that it could yet be fixed and returned to competition before the 12th edition of offshore racing’s toughest event is completed in Gothenburg on June 27.
“We got the boat off the reef in better condition than we thought possible,” he said. “There are large portions of the deck that can be reused – 70 to 80 per cent – and a lot of other components within the structure. We’ll rebuild our boat just as we rebuild our hopes and dreams.”
The aim is to return the boat to the now six-strong fleet in Lisbon ready for the Leg 8 start on June 7.
It’s been a rollercoaster few weeks for Nicholson, who led his crew to safety through waters on a dark night of November 29-30 and Saturday’s third leg departure from Abu Dhabi to Sanya, China promises to be another low point.
“It’s really going to hit hard tomorrow night, not necessarily on the start gun tomorrow when the boats start (1000 UTC) but tomorrow night. That’s when you always know you’re back in an ocean race – the first night,” he said.
“Until now we’ve been focused on how we can clean up everything on the reef, the best job that we can do getting the boat back and then ultimately relying and trusting on Vestas and Powerhouse to hopefully allow us to get us back in the race.
“Now that that’s done, hopefully mentally we can be in a different phase now to rebuild everything that we’ve hoped for.”
Team Vestas Wind CEO Morten Albæk has told his skipper that the ultimate plan will be not just to return for the eighth leg start from Lisbon to Lorient but give the six other boats in the fleet a run for their money after that.
“That,” he said, “will be real success.”
Volvo Cars announces new global marketing strategy
- Challenges traditional car marketing
- Marketing budget to increase
- One motor show per continent; Volvo-branded event to replace motor shows
- New online marketing channels will establish digital leadership
Volvo Cars today announces a brand new global marketing strategy that allows it to market and sell cars in ways never before seen in the global automotive industry.
“The car industry is one of the most conservative, least evolutionary marketing clusters in global business,” said Alain Visser, Senior Vice President Marketing, Sales and Customer Service at Volvo Cars. “For decades, car marketing has been following a certain pattern which is followed by the entire car industry. Now, Volvo Cars chooses to defy that logic and implement a strategy that is geared towards its own needs.”
The new strategy – the ‘Volvo Way to Market’ – focuses on four areas: marketing tools, digital leadership, dealerships and service.
One significant development contained in the new marketing strategy is that Volvo will in future concentrate on three key international motor shows, one each in Europe, the US * and Asia. In addition, it will conduct an annual Volvo event to showcase its products and brand. It will also place online sales and marketing at the center of its marketing strategy and drastically upgrade its dealerships and service offering.
* Addendum to Global Marketing strategy notice from Volvo - Volvo Cars of North America will participate in the New York Autoshow and others throughout the country - not just the Detroit show as mentioned in Volvo Cars press release from Sweden.
In order to achieve these goals, Volvo is increasing its marketing budget.
“With the Volvo Way to Market, we don’t want to throw all existing marketing concepts overboard,” said Mr Visser. “Many of them exist for a good reason. We also don't want to have the arrogance to say that we are better than all the rest. But we do have the self-confidence to say that we are different. So our way to market needs to be different as well.”
The details of the new strategy are as follows:
The Volvo Way to Market entails a radically new approach towards the tools used to market Volvo cars to the general public.
Volvo Cars sees the need to expose the press and customers to its brand, products and innovations, but motor shows are not always the best way to do this. “Motor shows are a rather traditional affair in which brands crowd out each other at set times in the battle for press exposure,” said Mr Visser.
That is why Volvo Cars will gradually reduce its motor show activities and remain in one motor show per region per year: Geneva in Europe, Shanghai/Beijing in China and Detroit in the United States.
Instead of following the traditional motor show calendar, Volvo Cars will embark on a series of new initiatives that seek to have a stronger and more individual approach towards the press and customers.
Similar to the Stockholm launch event for the all-new Volvo XC90 in August of this year, the company will organize an annual Volvo event where the Volvo brand, new products and innovations are presented in a manner that is commensurate with its brand and identity.
Volvo Cars’ advertising spend will not be at the level of its larger competitors. That means the Volvo Cars message needs to stand out and the company will need to be selective in terms of media channels. Volvo Cars plans to significantly increase its investments in its brand message.
Every brand in the industry is involved in some form of sponsoring activity, mostly because it is regarded as a ‘must have’ within the marketing mix. Volvo Cars questions that logic and has decided to wind down most of its sponsoring activities.
Instead, Volvo Cars will increase its commitment and investment in the Volvo Ocean Race. Rather than just another sponsoring activity, it sees the Volvo Ocean Race as purely Volvo. It is the most competitive, fair and pure blend of people with nature.
The biggest revolution currently underway in the car industry is not happening in the headquarters of manufacturers themselves, but in peoples’ living rooms.
The vast majority of customers around the globe shops online nowadays. Rather than going from dealership to dealership, car buyers now go from website to website.
As a result, the first leg of the Volvo Way to Market focuses on digital leadership and identifies three key elements:
Volvo Cars will start to sell online gradually across the globe. But rather than a replacement of our dealership network, online sales will complement our dealerships. Volvo Cars has worked closely with its dealer network in developing the tool in order to retain the personal touch that is so important in buying, delivering and servicing cars.
A first, successful step in digital commerce was taken with the online-only sale of 1,927 Special Editions Volvo XC90 cars in September, and this success further boosts the company’s commitment to growing its digital commerce activities.
An industry-leading configurator
Instead of the existing ‘build up your car from scratch’ concept that is ubiquitous in the car industry, Volvo Cars will offer customers a simple and functional experience that starts with what it calls ‘the designers choice’: a fully-specified car which the consumer can then adjust based on personal taste and budget.
Once the choice has been made, the consumer receives a short video which shows the car of choice in motion. This will result in a simple, cool, fun and premium experience.
An industry-leading website
The new Volvo Cars website is no longer simply a source of information. It is a brand experience in which every screen and every single piece of information is laid out in a Volvo way and in line with the Volvo brand and values.
Several car brands invest in so-called brand centers, located in major cities. Volvo Cars believes that each Volvo dealer is a brand center on its own. That is why the company has started to implement the following initiatives:
- All new dealerships will have a globally uniform lay-out and look and feel. Exterior and interior will look and feel Scandinavian and truly Volvo.
- Existing dealerships will be upgraded in a similar way with small details that make a difference. These will display the Scandinavian roots of the Volvo brand and the key attributes and customer benefits of Volvo products.
- Volvo Cars will implement small differentiators that underline the company’s Scandinavian and Swedish heritage. Examples include offering customers a drink in Sweden-produced glasses, sound and smell elements that portray a Scandinavian spirit and waiting/lounge areas that offer highlights from Swedish cuisine.
- All dealer staff will go through a training program to be familiarized with these new customer service processes and standards. European dealership staff will be dressed by Swedish fashion designer Oscar Jacobsson.
The final leg of the Volvo Way to Market is Volvo Personal Service which entails the introduction of a Personal Service Technician for each and every Volvo customer. At the delivery of his or her new car, the customer will be introduced to the Personal Service Technician who will take care of the customer and car throughout the ownership.
This program obviously requires an extensive training and development program, which is already underway. A number of countries have already adopted the Personal Service Technician concept as a pilot program and customer satisfaction in these markets has increased significantly. By 2018 all Volvo dealerships around the globe will be offering this service as standard.