Volvo Cars CEO leans on premium market as core operating profits rise in first quarter

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Volvo Cars CEO leans on premium market as core operating profits rise in first quarter

A Volvo EX30 fully electric EV Car is displayed during the Everything Electric London 2024 at ExCel on March 28, 2024 in London, England.

John Keeble | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Swedish automaker Volvo Cars on Wednesday reported an uptick in first-quarter core operating profits as demand for its premium range boosted sales.

First-quarter core operating profit was 6.8 billion Swedish kronor ($629 million), an 8% increase year-on-year. The figure excludes joint ventures and associates.

Revenue was 93.9 billion, down 2% from the first quarter 2023.

Retail sales nevertheless rose 12% year-on-year to 182,687 cars, after a new all-time monthly sales record in March.

While the growth was broad-based, Volvo CEO Jim Rowan said the company’s focus on premium autos had left it less exposed to increased competition and weaker mass market consumer spending.

“I think it’s because we play into that premium market sector that we’re a little bit more protected,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

The company said the results showed it was “on track” toward its target of at least 15% annual sales volume growth.

“We have had a strong start to the year, with our first quarter results laying a solid foundation for the year ahead,” Rowan said in a statement.

The growth included a modest uptick in electric vehicles sales, as the company has doubled down on the category. EV gross margins rose to 16% in the first quarter from 7% the year prior.

Rowan said it was one of the few companies that can boast those levels of margins in the EV range.

“I think we’re a little bit ahead of at least some of our competitors, and we plan to stay that way.

“Our focus is not only on delivering the best EVs with the latest technologies, but to do so with solid margins,” Rowan said.

Looking ahead, Volvo Cars said it expects a further rise in 2024 retail sales compared to the previous year, with the share of fully electric vehicles forecast to increase “considerably.”

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