Stefan Jacoby’s recent departure as the chief executive of Volvo Car Corp. was a controversial one. Although Jacoby suffered from stroke in September 2012, it was not cited as the reason for his eventual exit. One of those reasons could be the clash of philosophies over the carmaker’s long-term direction between Jacoby and the chairman-founder of Volvo’s parent, Li Shufu of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.
Shortly after Geely acquired Volvo from Ford Motor Co. in 2010, Li suggested that Volvo should produce upscale luxury sedans that would rival luxury vehicles produced by BMW, Mercedes and Audi. Jacoby, however objected as he and Volvo's European managers would rather focus on smaller vehicles to enhance the carmaker’s "green" image.
However, during the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, Jacoby acknowledged that China's executives had a strong preference for long luxury sedans.
He remarked back then that if the company wants to be successful, it has to listen to customers, adding that Volvo and Geely were having "fruitful discussions." But discussions bore no fruit as during the 2011 Shanghai auto show, Jacoby told reporters that proposals for an upscale Volvo luxury car were terminated.
Five months later, Freeman Shen, a Geely executive who currently manages Volvo's China operations, emphasized that one of Volvo's top five long-term goals was to become a top-tier luxury brand. The owner, after all, prevailed over the manager. Volvo has appointed Hakan Samuelsson as its new chief executive, replacing Jacoby.