The benefits of the shift are twofold, Kostanowicz said.
“On average, the Canadian consumer will receive their brand-new Volvo roughly one month sooner than before,” he said. “It took between 26 and 28 days for those cars, all things being equal, to be distributed throughout the country.”
The advantage is most pronounced for British Columbia customers, who will likely see a reductiononaverageof40days to get their new vehicle, Kostanowicz said.
The switch will have no impact on delivery fees charged to customers, which are averaged and levied as a flat fee based on the model, he said.
Equally important, it advances Volvo’s effort to reduce its carbon footprint.
“We’re constantly talking about the environmental impact of all of our actions,” Kostanowicz said.
Volvo Canada Managing Director Matt Girgis said western Canada is a priority for the automaker, noting the recent opening of two new dealerships, one in Calgary and the other in Burnaby, B.C., near downtown Vancouver.
By avoiding the journey through the Panama Canal and north along the East Coast of North America to Halifax, Volvo is cutting 9,600 kilometres off the vehicles’ trip to market. The automaker estimates this will result in a 47-per-cent reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide, or about 4,200 metric tonnes per year.
“I don’t think a lot of people appreciate or understand what that means,” Kostanowicz said.
Volvo says it’s the equivalent of driving almost 17 million fewer kilometres in a car or pulling 913 vehicles off the road, he said.
Volvo Canada began considering the change about two years ago, Kostanowicz said. It then took about 18 months to put together a proposal and negotiate the details, which involved two dozen stakeholders.
“My sales operation team was the main stakeholder for the Canadian sales organization,” Kostanowicz said. Volvo’s global outbound logistics department, based in Charleston, S.C., was also a key player, he said.
Volvo’s business is doubtless welcome. The Vancouver port’s two auto terminals have experienced a 19 per cent decline n shipments, to roughly 345,000 in 2020 from almost 425,000 vehicles in 2018, according to the Vancouver Frasier Port Authority’s most recent statistical report. Japan and South Korea account for most of the vehicles imported through Vancouver.
Numbers rebounded in the first half of 2021: 304,711 vehicles, compared with 229,076 in the first six months of 2020, up about 33 per cent.
The port authority — a federal agency that administers Crown lands used by the sprawling port’s private operators — and company that runs the port’s auto terminals declined comment. The biggest challenge is coping with the port when it bustles, Kostanowicz said.
“When it’s busy, it is probably the busiest port that I’m aware of as far as the number of vehicles that get throughput per day.
“This port’s very congested and operates a little bit differently than the one we have in Halifax, where they have a ton of land where they can take cars and park them and let them wait for processing.”