Volvo’s original subscription program raised the ire of the California New Car Dealers Association.
The group argued that by offering subscriptions directly through its website, Volvo violated state law meant to prohibit manufacturers from competing with franchisees.
In January 2019, the association filed a petition with the state’s New Motor Vehicle Board arguing the legality of Care By Volvo. In August, the board directed the state DMV to investigate.
“Volvo is deceiving consumers by saying this is a subscription program; it’s actually a lease,” Maas told Automotive News in 2020.
The association, at the time, asked Volvo to “immediately suspend” the subscription program in California. It also urged the California New Motor Vehicle Board to impose disciplinary action, including financial penalties, on Volvo.
A six-month investigation by California’s Department of Motor Vehicles that concluded in 2020 sided with dealers. It found that Volvo should have notified them about related changes to the franchise agreement correctly and that it provided preferential treatment in allocating subscription vehicles to factory-controlled stores.
The DMV also concluded that Volvo provided inadequate lease disclosures to subscription customers. The department warned Volvo that future violations might lead to “enforcement actions” but stopped short of taking any punitive steps.
Shortly after, Volvo halted the subscription program in California.