Volvo Car is paying the price for the lack of investment in the last days of Ford ownership after the 2008 banking collapse, according to sales and marketing chief Doug Speck.
Global sales of 422,00 last year were 6% down on 2011 with falls in Europe (1.3%) and China (11%) more than offsetting gains in the US, Russia, Japan and south-east Asia.
"It was also a fairly weak product year for us," said Speck. "Our only new product was the V60. But I saw the trend reversing in the second half of the year, and confidence was measurably better, so I would expect 2013 to be comparable for us, year on year.
"I believe the market will grow 8 to 9% in China and we will retain our share there. The US will probably grow 5 to 6% and we will protect our share there. The wild card is Europe. Our projection is that it will be down 3 to 4%, but no-one can be certain."
Volvo will have updates to the whole 60 series range starting at the Geneva show in March, and begin introducing its new four-cylinder powertrains at the end of the year, but it will be late 2014 before the first all-new product comes along - a replacement XC90.
"The XC90 has aged beautifully, but it has still aged, and it is a very strategically important car for us," said Speck. "The introduction of a new XC90 will be a very important event for us."
Volvo also needs a new compact car to replace the C30 which goes out of production this year, said Speck. "In Europe we have the V40 but we need something for the rest of the world and we don't yet know what it will be," he added. "Most likely it will be a partnership with someone, and we are already talking to several people. Russia, China and the US want sedans but, from a global point of view, the most important car for that segment would be an XC40."