Volvo has a problem on its hands. Its new XC90 SUV, which starts at $49,895 (with shipping), is generating plenty of excitement from buyers, but with wait times of up to three months, the Swedish automaker is in danger of losing them to competitors with vehicles ready to roll.
To insure these customers don't jump ship, Volvo has partnered with Enterprise Rent-A-Car to offer a subsidized rental program which allows buyers to drive the smaller XC60 while waiting for their new XC90. According to Automotive News (subscription required), it's unclear exactly how much of the tab the automaker will pick up, but between Volvo's contributions and incentives from local dealers, some buyers could see bills as low as $300 per month.
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Primarily, the program is designed as a stopgap to insure drivers at the end of a lease agreement wouldn't be pushed to another marque—or potentially face months without wheels.
The XC60s will come straight from dealer lots, and will eventually be returned there after their time in the rental fleet is complete. How popular the program will be—and whether the rental history will spook future buyers—remains to be seen. But with 4,000 XC90s already pre-sold, Volvo had to move quickly to address its vehicle shortage, and other automakers are no doubt keeping an eye on the innovative program's potential.
We'll know in a few months whether it's a success or not. Stay tuned.