It has been a year of change for Volvo Cars of North America. First, was the big move from New Jersey to Irvine, CA with Ford Motor Co.'s other Premier Automotive Group (PAG) brands.

And, as of November 1, there is a new man at Volvo's helm. Dan Werbin has been with Volvo since 1973 and is a product guy.

Then there is the evolution of Volvo's brand. Mr. Werbin explains, “Since 1927, the guiding principle for Volvo has been safety and environmental concerns. A second pillar we have been nourishing is durability. These are the two pillars we rest upon as our core values.”

More recently Volvo has been building a third pillar — one that Mr. Werbin calls “enjoyability.”

“We are certainly driving Volvo toward more dynamic vehicles,” he says. He cites the S60 — especially the convertible — as an example of Volvo's evolution in design.

Mr. Werbin also points to the Volvo wagons that have proven to be successful for the Swedish company.

There is the Cross Country vehicle, which Mr. Werbin describes as being “wildly successful,” — possible, in part, because the all-wheel drive (AWD) is available in the larger platform.

The numbers show just how important the Cross Country is for Volvo — without the cross/utility vehicle (CUV), Volvo's sales would be down 13.4% this year. With the CUV, Volvo's sales are up 3.6%. That's a 17% swing. Volvo will set a sales record for this year, having reached 100,000 sales faster than in any other year.

Volvo is getting ready to launch a spate of new vehicles. Scheduled late next year is the launch of what Mr. Werbin calls a true sport utility vehicle (SUV), based on the S80.