Volvo is on a roll. It is headed toward another record sales year, led by strong global demand for its XC90 flagship SUV, and its 7.5 percent first-quarter operating profit beat Mercedes-Benz. CEO Hakan Samuelsson is proud of the achievements, but he says Volvo is only halfway to its goals. He explained why Volvo has "a lot to do" in a recent interview with Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc.
Where is Volvo in its revival process?
We are halfway through this process. We have completed the 90 series with the sedan, wagon and SUV. There will be more variants coming, but the top of the line is complete. We are also a long way toward the profitability we require. So then maybe you change the tone a bit and say, 'Let’s fully concentrate on what lies ahead of us.' There is a lot to do to really reach the profitability level we need. What lies ahead is a huge challenge. But it has taken this company all the way up to being a really premium alternative.
How do you keep your team focused?
We can't sit back and relax. You have to continue the improvement on all levels, not just the cars. It has to be premium sales and services that are developed around these cars. It's also very important to really inform the customers about all of the features [offered in these cars]. A lot of challenges lie ahead. We have celebrated the first half [of the revival] enough. Now let's focus on the second half.
Was it a pleasant surprise that the XC90 nearly won the 2016 European Car of the Year award?
Being 18 points behind [the Opel Astra] with a big SUV in a very high price segment is quite extraordinary. I don't think an SUV has ever been close to that position. Plus, the car of the year winner is usually a value-for-money car. Being No. 2 is a real sign of recognition for the XC90, which I think our engineers should rightfully be very proud of. And, we have a lot of new cars coming so I think we will definitely be back.