Stunned by the sudden and unexpected resignation of its North American president, Volvo Cars Co. President Hans-Olov Olsson announces a quickly cobbled together interim solution for running his biggest export market.

Victor Doolan, former president of BMW of North America Inc. and current executive director of Ford Motor Co.'s Premier Automotive Group, will act as interim chief of VCNA until year's end.

A veteran Volvo exec, Dan Werbin, will become president and chief executive of VCNA on Jan. 1. Mr. Werbin started with Volvo in 1970 and has been president of Volvo Cars of Japan since 1996. He will continue in that assignment while transitioning responsibility for that market with his successor, Necip Soyak. Mr. Soyak is currently executive vice president of VCNA's international business unit.

Mr. Olsson says he was able to make the changes within days of former head Mark LaNeve's departure for Cadillac, because of contingency succession plans that were in place. He says that Mr. Werbin is prevented from reporting for his new post in the U.S. because a several month transition period is needed due to the unique problems the Japanese market presents to a new executive.

Besides attempting to grow Volvo's North American sales, Mr. Doolan will oversee VCNA's move to its headquarters to Irvine, CA, in August from its current location in Rockleigh, NJ. At the same time, he will continue as executive director of PAG.

Despite a slow start in 2001, Mr. Olsson expresses confidence that VCNA will improve its sales results over 2000. But he declines to specify a number. He does say VCNA is spending about $200 more on incentives this year. He also says negative economic factors in Japan and North America may prevent Volvo from reaching its goal of 600,000 global sales annually by a year or so.