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CEO Samuelsson says "intuititve functionality" will define tomorrow's Volvos (Photo: Arjen Bongard)

BOCHUM -- CEO Hakan Samuelsson wants to nearly double worldwide sales ofVolvo Cars in the next seven years.

To accomplish this, he wants to strengthen the Swedish car brand, reduce complexity in its vehicle lineup and boost sales in China and the US in particular.

Samuelsson, who succeeded Stefan Jacoby at the helm of Volvo Cars in October, 2012, said half of the projected sales growth would be generated in these two countries. The other half would come from core product sales in other major markets.

Global unit sales at Volvo Cars fell 6.1 pc to 421,951 in 2012 from 449,255 a year earlier. Buy 2020, Samuelsson said he wants global sales to total 800,000.

China is a major focus for the new CEO. "We have an opportunity to grow quickly in China," Samuelsson told the CAR Symposium here. Volvo Cars is owned by Chinese carmaker Geely.

Volvo is opening an assembly plant in China in the second half of 2013. It also plans a second factory as well as an engine manufacturing facility. And it wants to increase its dealer network to 200 by 2020 from 130 at present.

Volvo sales in China fell 10.9 pc to 41,989 units.

Samuelsson said Volvo will continue to capitalize on its safety record as it strengthens its brand. "If you ask customers, they will say a Volvo is a safe car."

But he added that, in addition to safety, Volvo will focus on providing what he called "intuitive functionality." As infotainment options grow inside the car, there is a need to make operating all these functions simpler. "The next generation of Volvos will have significantly fewer buttons," Samuelsson said.

To reduce complexity, Volvo will in future provide fewer engine options. Samuelsson said Volvo will be offering one gasoline engine and one diesel powerplant and each can be coupled with an electric motor. Through the use of turbos, the gasoline and diesel engines can have different outputs.

This modular approach, which will extend to other areas of the car as well, will help reduce costs, which is a cornerstone of Volvo's strategy. The carmaker will build all future models using a scalable product architecture.

The annual CAR Symposium, which is held for the 13th time in 2013, is hosted by Professor Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, who heads the Center Automotive Research (CAR) of Duisburg-Essen University in western Germany.