Tags Enlarge ImageCare By Volvo started with the XC40, but now encompasses five different model lines. Volvo Care By Volvo, the Swedish automaker’s monthly subscription program, has arguably been the only such plan to gain significant traction in America’s new-car marketplace. Now, Volvo is doubling down on the program, announcing expansion details that include more markets and more vehicles for its all-in-one, flat-rate monthly payment plan.Developed as an alternative to traditional vehicle leasing and purchase financing, Care By Volvo hasn’t been without its hiccups and controversies. The novel program has labored to overcome regulatory hurdles while slowly expanding state by state, and the plan has even rankled some members of the company’s dealership body. In fact, the California New Car Dealers Association asked the automaker to stop offering CBV in the Golden State back in 2018, and the California DMV is investigating the program for possible violations. Despite these obstacles, Care By Volvo appears to be meeting with greater consumer interest than any other automaker subscription program, and Volvo is understandably keen to capitalize on that momentum. First offered on select versions of Volvo’s entry-level XC40 crossover last year, the program recently expanded Care By Volvo to include the company’s new S60 sport sedan. Now, CBV is adding 2020 XC60 and XC90 SUV models, along with its V60 Cross Country lifted wagon. Interestingly, despite wide spreads in vehicle prices, there’s very little variation in Care By Volvo monthly pricing. For example, an XC40 T5 AWD in Momentum trim retails from $37,340 delivered, and runs $700 a month through CBV. The XC90 T6 AWD in Momentum trim retails for $57.940 delivered, but only costs $800 in installments — just $100 more per month. In other words, if you’re considering joining the program, bigger might be better from a value perspective.Care By Volvo pricingPer monthXC40 T5 AWD Momentum$700S60 T5 FWD Momentum$700XC40 T5 AWD R-Design$750S60 T6 AWD R-Design$750V60 Cross Country T5 AWD$750XC60 T5 AWD Momentum$750XC90 T6 AWD Momentum$800Care By Volvo involves a two-year agreement, with customers given the option to change to a different vehicle in the program after the first 12 months. When CBV was first announced in late 2017, the program started at $600 a month.At a media ride-and-drive event in Banff, Alberta, Volvo spokesperson Jim Nichols confirmed to Roadshow that “…well over 95% of Care By Volvo subscribers are first to the Volvo brand.” Converting first-time customers and so-called conquest buyers (those who presently own vehicles from other brands) is a difficult and particularly sought-after accomplishment among automakers, making 95% a very impressive statistic. 36 Photos 2020 Volvo XC90 is a slicker, safer Swedish SUV According to Nichols, Care By Volvo is now offered in 49 of 50 US states. New York — notoriously viewed as America’s most problematic auto insurance market for regulatory reasons– remains the lone holdout. The program recently launched in Canada, as well.While Volvo officials Roadshow spoke with declined to estimate how many customers are signing up for Care By Volvo on eligible vehicles, Nichols did offer some context, stating, “I will say the percentage is in single digits.”Volvo has been working to remove bottlenecks in the Care By Volvo signup and vehicle selection process, too. For starters, the CBV app, available on Android and Apple IoS platforms, is now a one-stop shop for both credit and insurance approval. According to Volvo, it’s possible to apply and be approved for a subscription within five minutes. 2019 Volvo S60 review: More competitive than ever Volvo More From Roadshow 2020 Volvo XC90 first drive: An improvement worth subscribing to 1 Roadshow’s long-term 2019 Volvo XC40 after three months 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country first drive: Small changes make a big impact 53 Photos Comment Share your voice Car Industry Mobile Apps Additionally, Volvo is working with its insurance partner, Liberty Mutual, to reorganize and streamline the plan’s insurance component. At present, individual policies are issued to individual customers, and as a result, it takes 24 to 48 hours for a policy to bind, delaying subsequent vehicle deliveries by a day or more. The automaker is working with Liberty Mutual on a new arrangement where an insurance card can be printed out right at the dealer in order to speed up the transaction. Right now, that process is in place in seven states, with plans calling for nationwide rollout by year’s end.Getting an insurance card doesn’t mean much if there are no vehicles available, of course. “We’re continuing to work with our retail partners on not only the subscription process, but also the delivery process,” says Nichols. At present, Care By Volvo vehicles all come from central stocks held at shipping ports. If you’re near to the ports (Newark, New Jersey and Los Angeles, California), you can probably get a car in 24 hours, but for other markets, it can take days. Volvo is working to change its process so that vehicles can be pulled directly from dealer stock for quicker delivery. Volvo says a vehicle can be applied and subscribed to within five minutes. Volvo Other automakers’ pilot subscription programs have functioned very differently from Volvo’s scheme, including Book By Cadillac, which was halted, only to be rebooted after a cold reception by consumers. The initial program called for hefty $1,800 monthly payments, but allowed users to swap vehicles 18 times per year to suit their needs, from sedans to SUVs. Mercedes-Benz Collection, the German automaker’s subscription plan, has a similar structure, with varying vehicle access by tier, costing between $1,595 and $2,995 a month. While Volvo has not disclosed how many customers have signed on to Care By Volvo, it looks like it will become an increasingly important tool for the automaker going forward. The key to the program’s long-term success may not just be convincing consumers about the merits of the program — it might just be getting more dealers and regulators onboard. Volvo
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir. File PhotoBangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on Friday alleged that the ruling Awami League has depoliticised the country by ‘restoring one-party BAKSAL rule as it did in 1975’, reports UNB.”Now, there’s no politics in the country. Politics is now under the grip of one party,” said BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.He came up with the remarks while exchanging views with local journalists at his house in Thakurgaon.The BNP leader said multiparty democracy was restored by their party founder Ziaur Rahman after Awami League had introduced one-party BAKSAL rule in 1975. “The one-party rule has now been again restored undercover of democracy.”He said their chairperson Khaleda Zia has been subjected to government’s political vengeance as she has been kept in jail by convicting her in ‘false’ cases.Fakhrul alleged that Khaleda is neither getting bail from the court nor proper treatment by the government though she is very sick.He renewed their party’s demand for shifting Khaleda to a specialised private hospital for her proper treatment.The BNP leader said Jatiya Oikya Front is united though two – MPs of Gono Forum, one of its components, took oath violating the alliance’s decision.”Organisational action has been taken against those who have taken oath. We’re united and working for the restoration of democracy. We must move forward together with people,” he said.About the stance of their party and the alliance on the current government, Fakhrul said they think Awami League has been ruling the country illegally by usurping the state power. “There’s no reason to accept such a regime.”He demanded the government immediately hold a fresh national election annulling the results of the 10th parliamentary one.
View of the damaged caused by Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida, on 12 October 2018. Photo: AFPThe death toll from Hurricane Michael rose to at least 16 on Friday amid fears it would continue to climb as search-and-rescue teams scour the debris of the Florida town that bore the brunt of the monster storm.”Mexico Beach is devastated,” Florida governor Rick Scott said of the town where Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday.”It’s like a bomb went off,” Scott said as he toured the town of 1,000 people on the Gulf of Mexico. “It’s like a war zone.”Rescue teams were using sniffer dogs in Mexico Beach on Friday in a search for victims who may be buried under the rubble in the debris-strewn community.Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), warned that he expected the number of deaths to rise.”I hope we don’t see it climb dramatically but I have reasons to believe we still haven’t got into some of the hardest hit areas,” he said.”What’s happening is search and rescue is trying to get into the rubble to make sure that there’s nobody covered up, trying to assess if there’s additional casualties there,” Long added.Dozens of structures in Mexico Beach — homes, shops and restaurants — were lifted off their foundations by storm surge and 155-mile per hour (250 kph) winds and moved hundreds of feet inland or smashed to bits.”Very few people live to tell what it’s like to experience storm surge,” Long said. “Storm surge causes the most amount of loss of life.”SticksMembers of City Miami Fire Rescue look for victims in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida, on 12 October 2018. Photo: AFPState officials said Mexico Beach was under mandatory evacuation orders but some residents decided to stay and try to ride out the storm.”You hope that somehow at the last minute a bunch of people got up and left or went somewhere else,” Florida Senator Marco Rubio told CNN.But judging from the number of homes reduced to “sticks,” he said “my sense is they are going to find more victims.”Bob Tenbrunson, a Mexico Beach retiree, rode out the storm at his daughter’s house in nearby Panama City and returned to survey the damage to his home.”I was going to stay here until it turned to a Cat 4,” he said. “So I followed the mandatory evacuation order and left with my wife.”Luckily we did not get a surge,” Tenbrunson said of his home. “I’ve got two trees on the roof and a couple of holes on the roof. I have been trying to patch it up the best I can.”The rest of Mexico Beach did not fare as well, and most of the beachfront homes, restaurants and stores were obliterated by the storm.”I spent my life savings and retirement to stay here so I can’t sell it now,” Tenbrunson said. “I just have to be hopeful that (the town) will be rebuilt and fixed.”Some residents arrived Friday with vans or moving trucks, hoping to recover as many personal effects from their splintered homes as they could.Others came with nothing — as there was nothing left to save.At least four deaths from the storm have been confirmed in Florida, five in Virginia, one in Georgia and three in North Carolina.US media on Friday quoted authorities in Jackson County, Florida, as reporting three deaths there, bringing Michael’s toll to at least 16.The latest two deaths in North Carolina occurred in McDowell County when a car struck a tree that had fallen across a road, officials said.Hundreds of thousands of people remain without electricity in Florida, Georgia and Virginia, and officials say it could be weeks before power is fully restored.Trump to visitA US flag is seen next to a fire department station damaged by Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida on 12 October 2018. Photo: AFPPresident Donald Trump said he planned to visit Florida and Georgia.”People have no idea how hard Hurricane Michael has hit the great state of Georgia,” Trump tweeted. “I will be visiting both Florida and Georgia early next week. We are working very hard on every area and every state that was hit — and we are with you!”Michael was the most intense hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle since record keeping began in 1851.Many of the damaged Florida buildings were not built to withstand a storm above the strength of a Category 3 hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale.About 5,000 US servicemen were deployed to help with relief and recovery efforts, the Pentagon said, using 100 helicopters and 1,800 high-water vehicles.Tyndall Air Force Base, home to the F-22 stealth fighter, suffered extensive damage, according to aerial photos of the coastal facility.The base was evacuated ahead of the hurricane and the costly fighter planes were flown to other installations out of the path of the storm.
Brandon Formby / The Texas TribuneHouston “flood czar” Stephen Costello in his office on Sept. 12, 2017.When we caught up with Houston’s newly-appointed “flood czar” last year, he told us he had no money and no staff.That’s still largely the case, Stephen Costello told us in an interview on Tuesday at his Houston City Hall office. He now has one paid staff member.In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s record floods, the city of Houston is poised to receive billions — maybe even tens of billions — of recovery dollars in the coming years that may cover significant improvements to the city’s woefully inadequate drainage system as well as other projects to reduce flooding. And Costello said on Tuesday that he expects to play a key role in deciding how that money will be spent. “Over 60 percent of our infrastructure is beyond its useful life,” he said. “So that’s what we’re dealing with right now.”He said at least some of the money should be used to buy up entire neighborhoods that border bayous and have inadequate flood protection and then to turn those areas into green space. That would be a big change: previous buyout programs have had little success because of inadequate funding and opposition from homeowners who don’t want to move.Costello said repeatedly on Tuesday that the city will have to “get creative” to find the extra money to pay for all the flood control upgrades that are needed in a city where, according to Costello, more than half of the homes that have flooded in recent years weren’t in a designated flood plain. And he added that development rules will have to change to help prevent more damage from flooding. Below is an edited and condensed version of our interview. TT: Last year at a meeting you told residents angry about flooding that ‘I don’t have any money, I don’t have any staff.’ Has that changed?COSTELLO: My former chief of staff when I was a city council member has joined me, back in January. So we’ve doubled our size [laughs]. So that’s a good thing. But we still don’t have money. We interface internally with the departments who do have money for flooding and drainage. And we’re out seeking additional monies whether it’s with federal dollars or state dollars.TT: So your staff has doubled in the last year from one person to two (including you). And you don’t have any extra money in your department. Will Harvey change your role or the scope of your role?Maybe it’ll just make my job a little bigger. I think the real issue is that we need more funding. Everything is all about the dollar. I mean every engineering problem has a solution. And the real question is whether or not the public wants to pay for it. TT: Last year you said you think they are willing to pay if they come to understand the issue and how much it’s going to cost to address it. Has Harvey helped with that?COSTELLO: I don’t know. I’ll be candid with you.I think they’re beginning to recognize that there is a risk that there’s always a possibility of flooding no matter where you are in the city of Houston, whereas I think people that didn’t flood prior to this event have always felt immune from flooding. And I think now they realize that the risk is everywhere. TT: How has Harvey changed the public conversation around flooding?COSTELLO: Usually a flooding event is an isolated event. It doesn’t impact the majority of the community. And they’re usually five or ten years apart. So people forget and they don’t really pay much attention to the need for infrastructure investment. The 2015 [the Memorial Day flood], 2016 [the Tax Day Flood] sort of changed that. The frequency of flooding got a little bit more common. And then we have a regional event like Harvey, so now everybody’s starting to talk about it. So that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing that we’re starting to talk about it. The real issue is: What are we going to do about it and where do we go moving forward?TT: Last year you told us that there needs to be a discussion on development regulations in Houston. Has any progress been made on that front?COSTELLO: We’re going to roll out [a task force] in October. And the mayor is really excited about it. It’s a group of probably a little over 50 people. There will be be a couple of developers, people that are representing some of the trade associations, engineers, landscape architects, bureaucrats like myself, as well as community people.We want a dialogue between all the groups so that the development community can get a better understanding of what the community at large is thinking. And then we can have a frank discussion about these issues and we want to address it.TT: Have you been able to secure any extra money for flood prevention as flood czar?COSTELLO: We created the Stormwater Action Team, going into areas [where] we have known flooding problems and doing whatever maintenance-related type activities that we have to do. The mayor set aside $10 million [from the city’s General Fund] for that. We’ve about exhausted that money. And so we’re in the process of figuring out how we get additional funding. And that was prior to Hurricane Harvey. TT: How much more money do you need for those maintenance projects?We don’t know. Because we’re doing it on an ongoing basis. It could be in the tens of millions. It could be north of a hundred million dollars.TT: It sounds like you came into this job and you said ‘We need more money.’ The county is spending something like $120 million per year on construction and maintenance of flood control projects. How much is the city spending now? How much does it need?COSTELLO: We’re spending over $250 million per year on — we call it ‘street and drainage’ so it’s a combination of drainage and street and the reason why we combine the two is when you get an extreme event, the water travels down the street as well, so it’s part of the drainage system. Several years ago public works had made an estimate that in order to stay ahead of the decaying infrastructure they need about $650 million a year … to spend on their street and drainage program. TT: What I’m hearing you say is that this is a pretty dire situation.COSTELLO: I wouldn’t say it’s a dire situation. I mean, the the problem has existed for a very, very long time. And as a result of this biblical event — [which] is what I call it — it’s come to the forefront now. Our job, my job, is to make sure people don’t forget. I mean that’s why the mayor created this position, is to remind people that we have to keep continuing to invest in drainage infrastructure. And so the real issue is how how big are we going to get? Are we going to be kind of microscopic in terms of doing these piecewise improvements or are we going to go global and figure out area-wide, how do we want to change the way we do drainage and flood control? TT: Separate and apart from the drainage projects that we’ve been really focusing on, you have this task force you mentioned and people talking about development regulations. Do you see a component of this recovery potentially resulting in changing those regulations, strengthening them?COSTELLO: What I see with this event will be looking at areas that are subject to repetitive flooding and figuring out ways to buy them out. I think you’re going to see a pretty aggressive buyout program. The city has never been in the buyout business and (Harris County) flood control has been doing predominantly most of the buyout and their budget is less than $3 million for this year for buyouts, which is a fairly nominal amount of money. Share