It's an oft-told tale at Volvo since the company was acquired by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group of China in 2010. Volvo executives are focused on safety and understated Swedish style, while strong-willed Geely boss Li Shufu goes for bling and direct competition with BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, especially in bling-loving China.
The debate -- which some feel led to Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby's 2012 ouster -- is raging again, according to Reuters.
The news service cites sources who say Li wants to make large, flashy, high-end vehicles that would compete with the German brands, and is frustrated with Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson, who succeeded Jacoby, and Vice Chairman Hans-Olov Olsson.
"Both Hakan and Hans-Olov, they're both very good at manipulating Chairman Li in order not to follow his ideas," a Volvo board member told Reuters.
Samuelsson said at the Detroit auto show: "There is no difference in opinion between Chairman Li and me." He said Li should be happy with Volvo's upcoming S80 sedan, which Volvo has been working to make bigger and more upscale.
But Reuters sources say Li thinks Volvo execs are meeting his desire for a big plush sedan only halfway. And they say Li has his eye on someone who may accept his vision: Carl-Peter Forster, a former BMW exec who headed GM Europe from 2004 to 2009, joined Tata Motors as group CEO in 2010 and then became chief adviser to Geely in 2012.
After Reuters weighed in, a Bloomberg story quoted Li as saying: "Our board and executive management are united on the strategic direction of Volvo."