Sales of Volvo vehicles were up worldwide, led by people in the United States and Europe coming back into showrooms after the pandemic took a big bite out of demand a year ago.
Perhaps more important for the long term is that the numbers show the strong sales are not just rising compared to the early COVID slump. In fact, during Volvo's first full year of emphasizing its Recharge lineup of electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, May 2021 was Volvo's strongest May ever.
In the U.S., Volvo continued to bounce back from its pandemic lows, locking in the 12th month of consecutive sales growth and setting the brand up for a year-to-date increase of 56.7% with a total of 51,496 cars sold here in the first five months of the year. In the same period in 2020, Volvo sold just 18,626 vehicles in the U.S.
Volvo's Recharge models are commanding a healthy percentage of sales in the U.S. market. Nationwide, Recharge vehicles made up around a fifth of Volvo's sales in May (20.8%). In electric vehicle-friendly California, they made up almost half (47.7%). Volvo said the share of Recharge sales shows that the company's transformation is working.
"Sustainability remains as important as safety and the increased interest in our Recharge products shows consumers are embracing a greener future," Anders Gustafsson, president and CEO of Volvo Car USA, said in a statement. "With a full year of growth, Volvo Car USA is focused on maintaining our momentum and growing electrified sales."
Globally, Volvo managed similar numbers as in the U.S., even if it hasn't been going on quite as long. May 2021 represented the 11th straight month of sales growth, with year-over-year figures jumping 43% in May 2021 compared to May 2020. The company sold 64,111 vehicles worldwide last month, and demand was robust in the U.S. and Europe. Volvo sold 24,761 cars in Europe in May, an increase of 65.1% compared to May 2020.
Recharge models were popular in Europe, too, making it look a bit like California. Plug-in hybrid and electric Volvos made up 40% of all Volvo sales in Europe and, globally, 23.7% of all the vehicles Volvo sold in May were Recharge models. While that number still includes PHEVs, Volvo has said its target is to have at least half of its vehicle sales be all-electric by 2025.
On a related note, European Volvo dealers began taking orders for the automaker's latest EV, the C40 Recharge, this past week.