Coup KOs C30 coupe
Only safety is sacrosanct in re-evaluation of Volvo, writes Paul Gover in Paris
EVERYTHING short of safety is on the line at Volvo as the Swedish brand plans for its new future under Chinese ownership.
Everything Volvo does — from the future of the C30 coupe to the value of Scandinavian design — is going through a massive re-evalution.
It is now controlled by Geely, which bought the company from Ford, and that raises the potential for a new brand direction and a new philosophy to drive every decision taken at its headquarters in Gothenburg.
‘‘I don’t want to be a follower,’’ says Stefan Jacoby, the new president and chief executive of Volvo Cars.
‘‘Our strategy will be to find our unique interpretation and our unique specification of what we think should be in a premium car. We tried too much to copy what our competitors are doing. This is not the right way for Volvo.
‘‘Our strategy will not be the same as one of our key competitors, and maybe we have done this too much in the past. It’s not like we want to be an Alfa Romeo or BMW brand — that makes no sense.’’
Jacoby was recruited from Volkswagen Group and knows what people expect from Volvo.
‘‘Safety is obviously our priority and we will continue to develop and engineer safety features that save lives,‘‘ he says.
‘‘What we are doing now is that we are putting the puzzle pieces together. We re-evaluate all the existing plans, strategies, branding and so on. We are, of course, developing a new strategy for Volvo for the future.
‘‘I think it will be more real. It will be much more focused on branding, on the values that Volvo, as a Scandinavian product, has to offer.
‘‘We will sharpen our products. We will give them a more distinguished Scandinavian design. I think we will give our cars a much bigger stake on appeal and emotions.’’
He says nothing is protected beyond safety and hints several models, including the C30, are under threat because Volvo needs to concentrate on four key products.
‘‘It’s definitely XC60 and XC90. Also the S and V60 lines. And the big ones as well, S80 and V70. Within the model range we have to significantly reduce our complexity.
‘‘We have also to ask ourselves if it makes sense to stay in the segments we are in today. We are too complex right now.
‘‘I have initiated to re-define and refine the brand which is Volvo. We need to do this on a global scale. It will take several months.’’
The coming changes at Volvo are unlikely to have much short-term impact in Australia. Even so, Jacoby is promising the right cars for the market.
‘‘Australia is a very interesting market with a growing demand for European products. It is an important part next to the major markets,’’ Jacoby says.
‘‘Markets like Australia . . . do offer opportunities for us. For me, every customer of Volvo has the same priority.’’
Under threat: the Volvo C30 is among models with uncertain futures.