Newly appointed Volvo Cars chief executive officer Stefan Jacoby wants to reposition the Swedish carmaker as an upscale brand to rival BMW.

He told a press conference in Gothenburg he was committed to bringing Volvo to “where it belongs, in the top league of the premium manufacturers.”

Seasoned auto industry executive Jacoby took over his new position this week after Zhejiang Geely bought the company from Ford for about US$1.5bn. He arrived from Volkswagen’s US operations to succeed Stephen Odell who stayed on with Ford to head its European unit.

Jacoby said his first priority would be an “intensive discussion” with his management team to sharpen the brand and more clearly define what the carmaker stands for. The strategy will take into account Volvo’s plans for growing significantly in China, where it plans to build a plant. Some Volvo models are currently assembled by a Ford-Mazda-Changan joint venture.

He added that the carmaker will also pursue two separate loans from the European Investment Bank and KBC Bank. Talks on these loans had been put on hold pending Geely’s takeover.

Jacoby was with VW for 25 years and became its top US executive in September 2007 where he cut costs, added a [now almost completed] assembly plant in Tennessee and moved the headquarters to Virginia from Michigan.

Volvo sold 334,808 cars worldwide last year, down 11% on on 2008 and 27% from a peak of 460,000 in 2007. The carmaker sold 219,461 vehicles to the end of July this year, up 16% year on year, the company said.

In China, Volvo’s fourth-biggest market, seven-month deliveries surged 75% to 17,899 cars, helped by last year’s introduction of the S80L, a longer version of the S80, that’s sold only in that country [rivalling locally-produced BMW LWB models].