By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor
Back in July I attended IMPACon18, the annual conference of the International Motor Press Association, of which I’m a member. This year it was hosted by Volvo at their newest dealership, Volvo Cars of Manhattan. Located in NYC’s dynamic Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, and not too far from Midtown (think Broadway, Times Square and the Theatre District), their showroom and offices take up only part of the first floor of an enormous 71 story skyscraper.
Not only is there an entire car dealer inside this building (including parts and service), there’s also an art gallery, an athletic club, offices, restaurants, and even a sky deck with two swimming pools! Residents of the 1,175 luxury apartments enjoy on-site valet parking, complementary daily breakfast, a full-service spa and of course, a 24-hour doorman. But only those living in the 83 penthouses on the top five floors get access to a luxury, chauffeured Volvo XC90 house-car service, including massage seats and beverage options with Orrefors Swedish crystal champagne flutes. Not bad for $5,500 a month!
But let’s get back to the dealership. Sure, most of us are working in aftermarket shops, but many of us have also spent our time working for one of the big dealers, too. But I think not many have worked in a shop quite like this one.
When I asked to see the service department, I was guided to an elevator to go down two floors to the sub-basement level. There, I met the manager and writer, who showed me around their enormous shop.
The shop takes up the entire basement, accessed from a double wide automatic door along West 43rd Street. It contains 300,000 square feet of floor space, 21 bays, plus the parts department, a few delivery prep and detailing bays, and even new car storage is down there too. We must have seen forty new cars with their plastics still on!
Along the ramp on the way down to service, there’s an inspection station similar to the kind used in New Jersey when they used to do safety inspections there. It looks similar to a dyno, but this one tests for steering, brakes and suspension issues, one axle at a time. The idea is that the customer or technician can drive the vehicle in, stop for inspection, and get a quick idea of service work that might be needed.
Of course, I had to see what they do for air conditioning service too, and was not surprised to find they had no R-1234yf machines just yet. Also, no one I asked had any information about upcoming system changes. No big surprise there either, since the last few surveys I conducted shows Volvo hasn’t yet switched here in the US, although I suspect there may be one for 2019.
Seeing an underground service department was cool, and I’m sure the guys down there love the cool shop temperatures during summertime. But for me, I still like being able to look outside, even if just for a moment. And while it may be tough at times to work in a smaller shop, imagine driving around concrete pillars in a basement with lots of blind corners. For me, I’ll stay upstairs!
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