Anders Gustafsson sees Volvo's 90th birthday from the most unique perspective of anyone on the company's executive management team. The 48-year-old Swede's family has been selling the brand for the last 45 years through its company, Bildeve, which is the oldest Volvo Cars dealership in southern Sweden. Like Volvo, Bildeve turns 90 this year -- and both are thriving.
"Volvo has tried so many times to reach the premium level and now it is there," Gustafsson, who is the automaker's senior vice president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, told Automotive News Europe. Since 2014 Volvo has annually set a new global sales record, a streak it expects to continue in 2017 by topping the current high of 534,332 that was reached last year.
The company's 2016 operating profit rose 66 percent to 11 billion Swedish crowns ($1.24 billion) and revenue increased 10 percent to 180.7 billion crowns. That helped improve the automaker's profit margin to 6.1 percent compared with a 4 percent margin in 2015. In 2013, Volvo's operating margin was just 1.6 percent. The goals for 2020 are even tougher: global sales of 800,000 vehicles and a profit margin of 8 percent.
Volvo's continued revival under Chinese owner Zhejiang Geely Holding, which bought the underachieving automaker from Ford Motor in 2010, gives Gustafsson reason to believe that the best is still to come.
"I am very confident we can stay at this level, but we're going to have to work even harder to try to exceed what we have already achieved," he said.