Volvo Cars posts record March sales, lifted by small electric SUV

COPENHAGEN,  (Reuters) – Volvo Cars sold a record number of cars in March, boosted by the launch of its fully electric small SUV, the Swedish company said on Thursday, sending its shares up 4% in early trade.

Sales for March rose by 25% from a year earlier to 78,970 vehicles, the highest number Volvo Cars has achieved for any single month, while first-quarter sales overall rose by 12%.

The company, majority-owned by China’s Geely Holding, said in a statement that sales of fully electric cars were up 43% and accounted for 23% of all sales globally last month.

“We are making good progress towards our annual sales target of at least 15% growth and in the months ahead we will focus on ramping up sales of our EX30,” Volvo Cars said in a statement, referring to its recently launched small SUV.

Shares in Volvo Cars were up 3.4% at 0759 GMT, outperforming a flat benchmark index on Stockholm’s stock exchange.

The company said in January that it remained confident of “tremendous growth” in the electric vehicles (EV) market. It expects EVs to account for half of its sales volumes by the middle of the decade and to sell only EVs by 2030.

Total sales in Europe, Volvo Cars’ biggest market, grew 33% in March, with sales of fully electric cars increasing 66% from a year ago.

In the United States, total sales rose 50%, lifted by plug-in hybrid models, while sales of fully electric cars declined 66%.

For the first quarter, overall sales rose by 12% year-on-year, driven by a 27% rise in fully electric cars.

By contrast, rival EV maker Tesla opens new tab on Tuesday posted a decline in quarterly deliveries for the first time in nearly four years and missed Wall Street estimates, sending its share price down as price cuts failed to stir demand.

Reporting by Louise Breusch Rasmussen, editing by Stine Jacobsen, Terje Solsvik and Emelia Sithole-Matarise