Volvo will build emotional cars in the future and may look to cooperate with rivals to gain economies of scale, new CEO Stefan Jacoby said.
Jacoby, former CEO of Volkswagen's North American unit, was appointed to head Volvo after China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. earlier this month completed its purchase of the Swedish brand from its former U.S. parent Ford Motor Co. for $1.3 billion in cash.
Jacoby said his first priorities will be to "further sharpen" Volvo's brand positioning and look at opportunities in the Chinese market.
"We will be upscale but will not just copy rivals such as BMW, " Jacoby said during his first news conference for Volvo on Wednesday. "Volvo stands for safety, solidity and reliability but the emotional positioning of the brand is not sharp enough. Volvo needs to find a Swedish-based, unique positioning."
Jacoby, whose long career at VW saw him hold positions in Asia, said there are significant opportunities for Volvo in China, which overtook the United States as the world's biggest car market last year.
Geely's plan includes nearly doubling Volvo's annual global production including building a new plant in China while maintaining its operations in Europe to supply the international market.
Jacoby, 52, said Volvo's size could work to its advantage, making it nimbler than competitors. The company will have to look at smart, intelligent solutions to overcome the disadvantage of not having the economies of scale that bigger rivals have.
"There are opportunities to cooperate with suppliers, with maybe other competitors as well, but also, of course, to find synergies with our sister company Geely in the future," he said.
Analysts have questioned whether smaller brands such as Volvo, which saw sales fall to 334,808 cars last year from a record 458,323 units in 2007, can pay for the high costs of product development.
Jacoby is looking to return Volvo to a full-year profit for the first time since 2005. It posted a $653 million pretax loss last year.
He declined to provide guidance on earnings and sales though he noted the brand had generated a profit in its final two quarters under the Ford umbrella.
Geely has also said it is prepared to pump up to $900 million in capital into Volvo on top of what it paid Ford.
German-born Jacoby, who started his new job Monday, said he was first approached by Geely to head Volvo in June. "I was surprised to be offered the job. I liked working for VW in the U.S. in a challenging role," Jacoby said, adding that Geely Chairman Li Shufu's ambitious plans for Volvo "convinced me to take the job."
Jacoby takes over as Volvo CEO from Stephen Odell, who is now chairman and CEO of Ford of Europe.
Reuters contributed to this report