Volvo Dealer Offers Loaner Bicycles

It seems like it’s impossible to avoid news about the auto industry these days. Who is closing how many plants? Which company will buy out the other? GM this morning just announced its “survival plan” to avoid bankruptcy. Hybrid car sales dropped for the first time ever last year. Yet, amidst the looming dark clouds of an industry that held one of the largest footholds in our nation’s – and world’s – economy, Volvo with one simple gesture offered a shining light that all is not lost in the world of four-wheeled machines.
Clive Brook Volvo in Yorkshire, England announced last week that it would offer customers the option of taking a traditional loaner car or a loaner bicycle when they drop off their Volvo for servicing.
The dealership is touting it as an anti-crisis initiative. “It’s cheaper from a supply and insurance point of view but it’s also cheaper for customers as there is no need to fill a bicycle up with petrol and there is also the convenience factor,” Clive Brook, the managing director of the dealership, said in an interview. But according to PSFK, “The dealership [also] hopes that offering bicycles will motivate customers to think about green transportation and getting some fresh air and exercise.”

Volvo has had its fair share of problems recently. Last week it also announced it would cut over 1,500 hundred jobs, a response to consecutively weak quarters at the end of 2008 and the start of 2009.
Though it’s only a handful of bikes at one dealership in England, this new program could signal a shift in the way automakers think about their industry and their role in society and the marketplace. Just in the same way oil companies have learned to embrace alternative energies, perhaps now is the right confluence of circumstances to make the GMs, Fiats, and Hondas of the world do what many critics have been clamoring for: Think about themselves as not just being in the car industry, but in the transportation industry.

Ashwin is an Associate Editor of Triple Pundit. He recently returned to the Bay Area after living in Argentina, where he wholeheartedly missed the Pacific Ocean. He is a freelance editor and media and marketing consultant.After a brief stint working in the wine world, when not staring blankly at a computer screen, you'll find him working on Anand Confections or at 826 Valencia, where he has been a long-time volunteer.

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