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Volvo CEO Jacoby shows the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid concept at the Detroit auto show (Photo: Volvo)

DETROIT -- Volvo Car CEO Stefan Jacoby believes the Swedish carmaker can compete with its premium rivals in the field of new automotive electronics systems by providing less, rather than more.

"Consumers don't need all these kinds of gimmicks," Jacoby said earlier this month in an interview with automotiveIT at the Detroit auto show.

"If I make a car that is intuitive to handle and to steer, that's a clear differentiator compared with the very complex cockpits of an Audi, or a BMW or a Mercedes," he said.

The Volvo CEO said issues around the connected car and new infotainment systems have "a very high priority." He said more details on Volvo's plans in this area will be released shortly. "We're very close to announcing our strategic approach," Jacoby said.

Volvo's minimalist view of telematics doesn't mean it won't have a full array of advanced technologies in its cars. Especially in the area of active and passive safety, the Swedish car brand, which is owned by Chinese automaker Geely, intends to continue to lead.

Jacoby acknowledged that competitors have also incorporated safety technology into their offerings. But he expressed confidence that Volvo, which has built up a reputation as an automotive safety leader, will continue to be at the head of the pack.

"It's all about how much effort you make in this area, and in that respect we will continue to lead," Jacoby said.

In the interview, Jacoby painted a picture of a company that is on track to meet ambitious 2020 global goals as it implements one of the biggest transformations in its recent history.

Total motivation

"We're totally motivated, we're in line with where we want to be and we have momentum," hesaid.

Volvo is growing again after years of stagnation and even decline. In 2011, it sold 449,255 cars, up 20.3 pc from 2010. If that growth continues, it will put the Swedish carmaker on track to reach its goal of selling 800,000 cars worldwide by 2020.

Volvo adopted a new scaleable architecture that will help streamline the production process. It will gradually introduce a range of new engines and it has its electrification strategy in place.

Later this year, Volvo will launch its V60 plugin hybrid, the first of its kind with a diesel motor. Other electric vehicles will follow.

Volvo also has a global sales plan. It has embarked on a new growth strategy for China, where it will soon start building cars. And it wants to continue to grow in the US, its biggest market.

Chinese advantage

Does Volvo benefit from having Chinese automaker Geely as its owner? Jacoby cites two advantages. "The first benefit is that we have an owner who understands the automotive business and isn't just a financial investor," he said.

And the second benefit is the help Volvo gets in realizing its strategy for China, where it wants to set up two plants and boost sales to 200,000 cars by 2015 from 47,140 last year.

Said Jacoby: "Look at how quickly we can establish our Chinese capacities. That's due to the fact that we have a Chinese parent company."

-By Arjen Bongard