LOS ANGELES -- Once a niche brand aimed at middle-class Caucasians in northern climes, Volvo is seeking new customers on new turf.
Volvo Cars of North America Inc. is selling more vehicles in the Sun Belt and Rocky Mountain states.
It also is aiming more advertising at minority consumers.
So far the new strategy is working, but Volvo executives are far from declaring victory.
U.S. sales are up 23.5 percent through July, thanks to Volvo's hot-selling XC90 sport wagon.
"We are getting our geographic imbalance right," says Vic Doolan, president of Volvo Cars of North America. "I'd like to think of it as the end of the beginning."
The XC90's successful debut last November helped Volvo expand in the Sun Belt and other previously small markets.
Through July, Volvo brand sales in California and Florida have jumped about 35 percent, and sales in Texas, Chicago and Denver are up more than 40 percent.
Meanwhile, Volvo's traditional markets in the Northeast and along the Eastern Seaboard are running better than ever. In nearly every state, Volvo's market share is up, one executive says.