BIRMINGHAM, England -- Volvo will make reduced complexity a selling point against its German premium rivals, CEO Hakan Samuelsson said.
He used three numbers -- 55, 37 and eight -- to make his point. The 55 and the 37 represent the number of buttons available in recently launched models from two of the three German luxury brands: BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. In contrast, eight buttons control the main functions in the new Volvo XC90.
"No one wants buttons hidden down in the dark areas around the seats," Samuelsson told the Automotive News Europe Congress here last week.
Volvo, he said, would not try to match its rivals because it has a newfound confidence in itself and what it has to offer. "No one wants to buy a copy. They buy the original," he said.
As an example of how Volvo will stand out as an original, Samuelsson pointed to an app-based service that allows a Volvo owner to get groceries or dry cleaning delivered to his or her parked vehicle. The delivery person is given one-time access to the car to drop off the items. They then shut and lock the car and send the Volvo owner a text message to inform him or her that the items have been delivered.
Examples such as that are part of Volvo's efforts to reinvent the brand, which was bought from Ford Motor Co. by Chinese billionaire Li Shufu's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. in 2010.
At that time, Volvo had little new product and was reliant on Ford for its platforms and engines. Starting with the new-generation XC90, which is arriving at dealerships in Europe this month and will be in U.S. showrooms in July, the automaker's engines and platforms will be 100 percent Volvo.
Samuelsson said that in four years, the XC90 will be the oldest model in the brand's lineup as the result of an aggressive product offensive that Volvo hopes will increase global sales to 800,000 by 2020 from 465,866 last year and a targeted 500,000 this year.
When asked whether Volvo's chief target was Audi, BMW or Mercedes as it chases its 2020 goal, Samuelsson said the focus was on reaching customers who are less interested in horsepower and more focused on showing that they take responsibility for the environment and their family.