How big a role will plug-in hybrids play overall in Europe?
The plug-ins will probably take a bit from diesels, but it will not be a revolution. I also think it's important to stress that we need the diesel to reach the CO2 targets [in Europe]. It cannot be replaced overnight. But electrification is a new card in the game that will definitely change things.
What percentage of buyers do you expect to choose your plug-in hybrids?
We foresee 10 percent of our global sales being plug-in hybrids in the midterm. I think the plug-in concept will be very attractive.
Do you need to do more to promote your growing lineup of plug-in hybrids in Europe?
Yes, we will do that. But first we need the new cars such as the XC90 plug-in to come out [in more markets]. Our ambition is to double our market share in Europe and this unique powertrain concept will be a key part of that growth. Having this third option makes Volvo unique.
Volvo sold a record 503,127 vehicles in 2015. What is the next big goal?
We want to reach 800,000 by about 2020. If it takes one year longer, no problem. This company needs a bigger volume to achieve sustainable growth, but we have to adapt to the market. We cannot achieve our goals just by discounting and doing a lot of stupid things. It is not very wise to just have a growth target. You also have to have a profitability target and brand image target.
Which European markets will be crucial to helping you double your market share in region?
Germany would be No. 1 and then the UK and France. Germany is key because you have to show that you are an alternative to the other premium automakers there. That's why it was extra nice to see that we grew in Germany last year [by 13 percent to 36,120 sales].
Will you boost U.S. sales again in 2016?
It will be a good industry situation this year, but for us it’s not that relevant. I think what’s relevant is that we have passed the turnaround point. Now we are focused on rolling out a full year of the XC90 and a half year of the new S90. This can bring us growth in the U.S. market.
I don't want to go into any prediction and, like in the U.S., the growth of the overall market is not crucial for us. In China it's important to build our brand because we are still not as well known as the Germans in the premium segment. We have a new sedan [the S90], which is very attractive for China, so we'll continue taking market share.
How will the S90 stand out from rivals such as the new Mercedes-Benz E class?
It has two key features. One is its autonomous drive functionality, which means you can basically let the car drive itself on the highway [at speeds up to 130kph]. That is standard in the car, which demonstrates that how important we believe autonomous features are for the Volvo brand. The second is the Twin Engine [plug-in hybrid powertrain], which I think ends the discussion about engine size. The torque and the power that the car delivers has nothing to do with how many cylinders the engine has. It also delivers a totally different level of mileage. This demonstrates our belief in electrification.