DETROIT -- Volvo will be easier to sell than its Swedish cousin Saab, Volvo Car Corp. CEO Stephen Odell said.
General Motors Co. is winding down Saab after spending the last year trying to sell it. Ford Motor Co. has been trying to sell Volvo even longer but appears to be near a deal with Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.
Volvo is easier to separate from its parent, Ford, than Saab would have been from GM, Odell said. Volvo has its own manufacturing, r&d operation and product plan, he said.
In his 16 months as CEO, Odell said, Volvo has developed “a product cycle plan that proves that we are stand-alone and can be self-funding.”
Odell declined to say when the product plan starts, but it includes Volvo-only engines. He said future Volvos would use the automaker's own platforms rather than continuing to share platforms with Ford and Mazda.
In other areas, Odell said Volvo is increasing capacity to build more XC60 crossovers. Volvo sold 66,000 XC60s worldwide last year but could have sold more.
So Volvo invested to eliminate a bottleneck in the body shop, a move that will add 20,000 units of capacity this year -- “and we don't see that as enough,” Odell said.
Volvo also suffers from an XC60 shortage in the United States, where the brand sold 9,262 units of the crossover in 2009.
Despite the shortage and a 16 percent decline to 61,435 sales last year, Volvo's U.S. dealers improved their return on sales to 2.3 percent from 1.3 percent in 2008, said Doug Speck, CEO of Volvo Cars of North America.