Swedish carmaker AB Volvo is achieving its goal of increasing penetration in the luxury sedan market with its S80 model, says Bengt Banck, senior project manager for the vehicle.

Mr. Banck says Volvo's Torslanda, Sweden, plant will build 80,000 S80s this year and could increase production if the economy stays healthy and the marketplace demands more.

Since the car was launched on Sept. 15, more than 14,000 S80s have been sold worldwide, including more than 8,000 in North America. Mr. Banck says the S80 is attracting customers not only because of Volvo's safety reputation, but also due to its styling.

Sales of the S80 are even doing well in recession-racked Japan, Mr. Banck says. He expects 1,000 S80s to be sold there in the '99 model year. Overall, he expects Volvo to sell about 15,000 units in Japan this year.

Volvo is especially happy that it is meeting its plan to sell more sedans. Sales of the 90 series that was replaced by the S80 were mostly station wagons, especially in Europe. There, only about 10,000 S90 sales were recorded, compared to about 15,000 V90s (the wagon version of the car), in the '98 model year. There is no V80, but Volvo is expected to preview a new station wagon built on the same chassis as the S80 at the Geneva auto show in 2000.

Code named P26E, the new station wagon will go on sale shortly after its Geneva debut. Unlike previous station wagons that shared substantial sheet metal with sedans, the P26E is expected to share few body parts with the S80. Later that year, Volvo is likely to launch a replacement for its V70 Cross Country XC. The new model, code-named P26L, tentatively is scheduled to arrive in dealer showrooms in the fall of 2000 and is expected to be more of a crossover-type vehicle than the present Cross Country.

Volvo is in the process of adding dynamic stability traction control in 6-cyl.-, automatic-equipped S80s (the only drivetrain offered in the U.S.). The system is supplied by ITT Teves and costs $1,095 in the U.S. About 11% of cars now being ordered by dealers are including DSTC and Volvo has not even started advertising availability of the option.