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Volvo chief predicts a bright future

Volvo's president and chief executive officer, Hans-Olov Olsson, has predicted a bright 2002 for the Swedish manufacturer - and believes its new range of diesel engines will help boost European sales.

'We have a full year ahead with the full diesel range programme,' Olsson said at the Geneva Motor Show. 'The range will make this year exciting for us and our new diesels have been exceptionally well received in the tough diesel markets of Germany, Belgium and Spain.'

Olsson said Volvo was also excited about the UK's growing diesel market in response to new tax changes being introduced in April, when company car tax will be based on a percentage of the P11D value of a car, dictated by its emissions of carbon dioxide per kilometre.

'The UK market is growing and if it meets the 30% diesel European average then that will also be very exciting. Diesel engines are very important and we now have a full range which will definitely fuel our growth this year.'

This month, Volvo introduced a 130bhp version of its 2.4-litre diesel engine.

Volvo's XC90 SUV made its European debut at the Geneva show and it is aimed at drivers of the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz ML.

'The XC90 adds to the excitement of the Volvo portfolio,' Olsson said.

Volvo's growth strategy includes introducing new niche models giving the company a presence in areas where it was not previously represented.

The manufacturer has announced its sales figures for last year, with Olsson describing 2001 as 'very successful'.

'Despite the substantial upward trend in competition,' Olsson commented on worldwide sales in an official statement, 'we managed to beat our record performance of 2000. The strong dollar is an important factor behind our high earnings, although even more important, of course, is our fantastic product portfolio.

'Last year we created quite a stir with our concept cars, our diesel engines developed in-house and the all-wheel drive Volvo S60 AWD.'

Volvo sales in Western Europe did fall last year though, to 224,660 vehicles, compared to 230,504 the previous year.

Commenting on sales in Sweden, Volvo said: 'The number of new Volvo registrations during the year was 48,738, a decrease of 11.2% from 54,883 vehicles in a sharply declining total market.'

And for Germany, the manufacturer said: 'Altogether, 40,602 Volvo cars were registered, making Germany Volvo's second largest market in Europe and its third largest overall.

'The number of registered Volvo cars decreased by 2.3%. The total market declined by 1.1%.'

In the UK, however, Volvo's fourth biggest market, sales last year rose to 40,014 vehicles in 2001, up from 36,943 the previous year, an increase of 8.2%.

'However,' it said, 'Volvo's market share fell somewhat in the increased total market.' Olsson said 'other reasons worth celebrating' were some of its smaller markets, including Russia where sales rose by 168%.

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