Special Coverage

New York Int’l Auto Show

NEW YORK – Volvo Cars of North America LLC will build its business around sales of sedans and its XC cross/utility vehicle, President Doug Speck says.

VCNA, which saw deliveries plummet to 67,975 units in 2009, will get a boost this year from the S60 sports sedan, Speck predicts. The new model, unveiled at the auto show here, gives Volvo some ammunition against such cars as the Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3-Series.

The executive doesn’t expect spectacular growth overall this year, however.

“We'll grow fairly consistently with the industry – about 10%-15% this year,” he tells Ward’s in an interview. Volvo sees the U.S. light-vehicle market achieving 11.5 million-12.0 million sales in 2010.

Although March volume declined 17.6%, Volvo says its first-quarter deliveries were up 10.9%.

“We have to grow in a financially smart manner,” Speck says.

The tentative purchase of parent Volvo Cars by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group from Ford Motor Co. this week won’t affect how the Scandinavian auto maker operates or curtail its independence, the VCNA chief says.

“My personal intent is to remain with Volvo,” Speck says.

The sale, signed this week but still requiring government approvals, should finally calm things down for staffers and dealers.

“Putting that behind us is significant,” the executive says of the sales process that has dragged on for some 18 months. “The new combination presents a lot of opportunities for Volvo.”

VCNA is in a hiring mode as it continues to ramp up as an autonomous business separate from Ford. That newly gained independence could have a positive effect on Volvo's appeal as an employer, Speck says.

The new S60, available at U.S. dealers this fall, will introduce Volvo’s “Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake” safety technology. The system can detect a pedestrian in the path of the car and fully brake the vehicle if the driver doesn’t respond to a warning.