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WITH online research and car buying growing rapidly, Volvo UK has launched the most comprehensive online sales service yet.

Volvo Online will allow customers can go through the whole car buying process online, vehicle selection, colour, configuration, part exchange on an existing model and a complete choice of finance options – personal contract purchase (PCP), personal contract hire (PCH), a conditional hire purchase agreement or cash.

The agreement can be finalised via e-signature and while, in theory, the first time a customer sees their new car could be when it’s delivered to their home, that is unlikely to happen.

Volvo is keen that its dealer network is ultimately in control of  the transaction.

Nicola Murphy, Future Sales Manager at Volvo Car UK, said that fewer than 10% of online buyers in the UK want a home delivery. “Most people still enjoy the theatre of collecting a new car from a dealership.”

Murphy has worked on the Online project with finance partners Santander and Volvo Finance Services while developing the online portal with industry specialist Codeweavers.

She added: “With these partners we have developed a bespoke service rather than taking something off the shelf.”

Unlike other OEM online services in the UK, the Volvo portal covers all the financial packages.

Murphy added: “Volvo Online is designed with transparency and trust at its heart. Customers can see in real time the impact on their monthly finance while configuring their car, whether changing the colour or option packs.

“The platform will also strengthen the relationship between the customer and their local retailer who will manage the process and help them to choose the right car and finance package for them.”

Should the customer wish to trade in a vehicle, Volvo Online will allocate a guaranteed value to the part exchange, even in the event of a long-lead factory time order.

The launch of the services comes as Volvo continues to gain sales momentum in the UK where Q1 volumes rose 39% year on year to 50,000 vehicles while global first-quarter retail sales up 9.4% to 161,320 cars.

Jon Wakefield, Volvo Cars UK Managing Director said: “Whether online or offline, the way people buy cars has changed. Customers now have much more control over the process and Volvo Online helps them to take that one step further.”

Despite the growth in online research and purchase, Wakefield does not see traditional dealers disappearing. He added: “People still want some sort of physical interaction, to test drive a car or somewhere to get it serviced or repaired.

“But there is no doubt that the role of the network is evolving. Ten year ago we used to call them dealers, they are now retailers and maybe in future they will be brand partners.”

The UK is now Volvo’s biggest European market having overtaken both Germany and Sweden while it is the third largest globally behind China and the US.