Steve Odell - a British native - is the first non-Swede at the helm of Volvo Car Corporation and, despite the rumours, insists he has not been appointed by his Ford masters to get the company ready for sale.

He believes the Volvo brand is undervalued and needs time to show just what it can do.

"I am an old fashioned sales guy," he said at the Paris motor show. "All I want is for Volvo to have an unfair share of whatever the market is. My brief is to get Volvo back to sustainable profitability"

He admits Volvo is some way short of meeting its previously announced target of volume over 600,000 cars a year world-wide. This year it will probably fall short of 400,000, down from around 440,000 in 2007, he said.

Getting back to profitability is inevitably going to involve some pain. The company announced 2,000 job losses in June and a further 900 three weeks ago.

Odell, just days into his new job, said he would be looking at the cost base over the next month. "We will be in a position to make further announcements at the end of October," he said.

He is not daunted by being the first foreigner in charge of the company. "Volvo is a national treasure and the decisions we make have to be good for the company and Sweden. In fact I have even asked the Swedish government how they feel about a Brit being in charge. If they thought it was a problem then I would have had to have a good, long look at what that meant."

Odell added: "Volvo cannot abandon safety as a key brand value and the environment is key - that's not just a marketing term, in Sweden it's a base assumption."