Volvo Car Group intends to almost double U.S. sales to 100,000 within four years as the automaker seeks to re-establish itself in the market, its regional chief said.
“We’ve been extremely transparent with our dealers and that transparency will re-engage them and make them invest in their facilities,” Lex Kerssemakers, head of Volvo Cars North America, said in an interview Thursday. With that and 14 new body styles during the period, “I’m actually rather confident we’ll get there soon.”
Volvo since its change of ownership five years ago has missed out on the revival of U.S. auto sales. Its deliveries slid 7.9 percent in 2014 to about 56,000, as the industrywide figure climbed to 16.5 million for the highest total since 2006. Volvo’s peak in the U.S. was 2004, when it was a unit of Ford Motor Co. and reported selling about 139,000 vehicles.
Volvo, owned by Chinese billionaire Li Shufu’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. since 2010, is regrouping as U.S. light-vehicle sales are on track for a sixth straight yearly increase amid job gains, available credit and lower fuel prices. Five of the seven vehicles Gothenburg, Sweden-based Volvo sells in the U.S. are crossovers, which generally are more profitable than sedans and coupes and have helped lead the boom.
Through April this year, Volvo reported U.S. sales of 18,359, up 0.1 percent from a year earlier.
The automaker has an $11 billion worldwide investment program that includes overhauling its lineup during the next four years, starting with the XC90 sport utility vehicle. Volvo wants to boost annual global sales to 800,000 vehicles by the end of the decade, from a target of 500,000 for 2015.
Volvo is building its first North American auto factory in South Carolina. The plant, to be built north of the port city of Charleston, is slated to start operating in 2018 and eventually be able to produce 100,000 autos a year. The factory will supply the U.S. and other markets.
Kerssemakers said he sees Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, BMW AG and Volkswagen AG’s Audi as Volvo’s main competition. Dealers have seen a “significant” number of customers trade in vehicles of those brands for the new XC90, he said.
“Those are the brands we are focusing on and the brands we know our customers are coming from,” he said.