A shakeup in top management at Volvo Car puts Hans-Olov Olsson, a 34-year veteran with the Swedish automaker, in the driver's seat.
Mr. Olsson, currently president of Volvo Cars of North America, was named president of the wholly ownedMotor Co. subsidiary effective July 1. He succeeds Tuve Johannesson as a result of the shuffle engineered by Wolfgang Reitzle, head of Ford's Premier Automotive Group, who reportedly felt the need for a new direction at Volvo. It is unclear how long Mr. Johannesson, who becomes vice chairman, will remain at the carmaker.
Mr. Olsson says discussions about his promotion have been underway for some time, but “I got my marching orders last Monday.” A new head of Volvo's North American operations will be named July 1, but Mr. Olsson declines to say if that position would be filled by a current Volvo executive or from elsewhere in theorganization.
Mr. Olsson says Volvo plans to increase worldwide sales from 400,000 units now to 600,000 annually by 2005. That's crucial if PAG is to reach the 1 million-unit sales target Mr. Reitzle has set for 2005. Mr. Olsson says it's also imperative for North America to contribute 200,000 sales annually for Volvo to reach its 600,000-unit bogey. At present, Volvo sells 125,000 vehicles in North America annually.
The new Volvo chief says he expects to have a close working relationship with Mr. Reitzle. Besides being head of Volvo, Mr. Olsson also will be on PAG's executive committee. Mr. Olsson says his goal is to make Volvo the most profitable firm in the prestige segment. He says internal targets for profitability exist but declines to disclose them.
Mr. Olsson tells Ward's his first priority is to develop a successor to the S/V 40 line, which goes out of production in 2004. That NedCar BV joint venture plant withMotors Corp., where the car is built, will be sold to DaimlerChrysler AG.
The S/V 40 replacement will be smaller than the current car, Mr. Olsson says, and the company currently is studying where it will be built and whether it can share parts with Ford or other Ford subsidiaries. He won't say whether the new car will use a Ford orMotor Corp. engine.