Chinese billionaire Li Shufu and Volvo New Zealand boss Steve Kenchington have a common dream for Volvo, albeit on differing scales.
Mr Li wants to see the brand he bought from Ford in 2010 to add to his Zhejiang Geely Holding Group to become a true rival for Audi, BMW and Mercedes and double annual output to 800,000 units by 2020.
Mr Kenchington will be happy to see it grow out of minnowdom here in New Zealand. However, he says Mr Li's aspiration is his inspiration for chasing a 64% growth next year, which means lifting the predicted 2013 tally of 225 units to about 600.
Next year is also when Volvos begin to be Volvos again; the new XC90 marks a return to Swedish designed and built hardware, notably a four-cylinder e-Drive diesel, petrol and lpg engines to replace current four-, five- and six-cylinder powerplants, largely Ford inheritances.
Volvo NZ's resurgence initially relies on enhancing the appeal of current cars: the entry Focus-spun 40-series (the final Ford-based Volvo) hatchback, the 60-series sedan and wagon, the 70-series wagon and the current XC90, a 2002 release still surprisingly popular here.
The 2014 campaign begins now with the launch of a new ''cross-country'' version of the V40, in 2.0-litre four-wheel-drive petrol and $4000 cheaper front-wheel-drive diesel form.
With jacked-up suspension and body cladding that leaves it looking tougher and 40mm taller, the Cross Country is competing against the Mini Countryman, BMW's X1 and even Subaru's XV. It's not quite the same as the XC60 and XC90 (XC stands for rugged off-roader, while the Cross Country combines city and out-of-town duties).
Mr Kenchington doubts that will be a hindrance: ''Most people want the look but not necessarily the functionality of a 4WD.'' He does agree though, that if Kiwis had called the shots on drivetrains, they would have asked for an all-wheel-drive diesel and front-drive petrol.
Both CCs gain as standard a luxury package that includes features that are options on the V40 hatchback.
This delivers electric front seats, voice-controlled sat-nav system, leather seats and a 17cm multimedia screen. An optional driver-support pack ($5500) delivers adaptive cruise control with collision warning, blind-spot information system, driver alert and lane departure warning.
In the sales plan, the V40 CC will be a strong player, but still outpaced by the XC60, which is expected to achieve 50% of 2014 volume.
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