"I'm not suggesting we'll do cars with pagoda roofs, but all new cars have a little signature somewhere that's Chinese," Horbury, Geely's chief designer since 2011, told Reuters at the Swedish design studio where he spends three weeks a month.
That means dashboard curves which he compares with a famous Chinese bridge in Hangzhou where Geely has its headquarters.
"Here at a Chinese company, I think there is something special to sell, and if you just become anonymous, that's what you remain," said Horbury, 66, who spends a week each month in Shanghai.
Volvo and Geely each sold about half a million cars last year while world leaders Toyota, Volkswagen Group and General Motors sold about 10 million each.
In China, Volkswagen tops sales charts for all vehicles compiled by LMC Automotive, with the biggest homegrown manufacturer Changang in fifth place and Geely in 14th.
Geely cars cost from 38,900 Chinese yuan ($6,000) to 249,800 for an electric vehicle. Its new GC9 flagship sedan, which Horbury worked on, starts at about 120,000 yuan.
Unlike neighbors Japan and South Korea, which are among the five top car exporting countries in the world, China is not even in the top 20, the World's Top Exports website shows. It exported fewer than half a million passenger vehicles in 2015, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
At the heart of Geely's ambition to break into European and U.S. markets is the China Euro Vehicle Technology development hub, created by Geely in 2013 in Sweden to build the platform which will be used in new Volvo and Geely small car models.
On Wednesday, Volvo is set to unveil two new concept cars -- the first to use the common platform.
Sources have told Reuters Geely will launch a new brand next year, code-named L, with cars based on the platform.
"Not even during my time at GM did I experience a more aggressive growth plan," said auto industry veteran Mats Fagerhag, who heads CEVT, a tech center in Gothenburg with a staff of 1,700 in which Geely is investing several hundred million dollars a year.
Fagerhag said local production in Europe could be a future step, to enable Geely, which also owns the company that makes London's trademark black cabs, to get a complete range of brands the same way Volkswagen has.
Horbury declined to comment on brands.