With the company heading for record sales again this year, Volvo Cars is switching up its senior management team with a move with implications for the automaker’s succession planning.
Volvo said the Senior Vice Presidents for the Americas region and for Europe, the Middle East and Africa will switch jobs.
Effective Sept. 15, Lex Kerssemakers will be responsible for the EMEA region. He was previously Senior Vice President for Volvo Americas and President and CEO of Volvo Cars USA. Kerssemakers will be replaced in the Americas by Anders Gustafsson, who was Head of EMEA.
The move marks the second time in two days a major automaker has shuffled its top executives. Audi announced it was replacing its top managers in human resources, sales, production and finance, although its beleaguered CEO, Rupert Stadler, retain his post as CEO.
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Both Kerssemakers and Gustafsson have enjoyed success while guiding Volvo’s comeback during the past couple of years and will have important roles in bringing the company’s new plant in the U.S. on-line and planning for Volvo’s commercial business.
Since his appointment to Head of Americas region in 2015, Kerssemakers has overseen a turnaround in the U.S. with sales up by 46.8%, Volvo noted in its official announcement.
“Awareness of the Volvo brand has trebled under his stewardship and Volvo is now the fifth most searched for auto brand in the U.S.,” the statement said. “Lex brings over 30 years of experience to Volvo Cars’ largest sales region at a time when the auto industry is undergoing significant changes,” said Samuelsson.
Gustafsson has been Senior Vice President of EMEA since March 2015, when he joined the executive management team after four years as the head of the Swedish national sales company, Volvo said. During his time as Senior Vice President he has overseen a sales growth of 13.5% in Sweden and Western Europe, and achieved two consecutive years of record sales for the EMEA region.
“Anders inherits the Americas position at a crucial time. He brings three decades of experience in the auto industry along with the energy and drive needed to further develop Volvo’s ongoing turnaround in U.S.,” said Samuelsson said.
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Volvo has underscored its commitment to the U.S. with the announcement that it is to build a new manufacturing plant in South Carolina, creating thousands of new jobs. The plant will start production in mid-2018.
“Lex and Anders will continue to deliver on the strategies we are currently putting in place in both Europe and the Americas,” added Samuelsson.
Kerssemakers will also be responsible for coordinating the development of Volvo Cars’ commercial operations. This new role reflects the pace of the company’s growth as well as its broadening range of business interests.
“Volvo is growing fast,” said Samuelsson. “On top of its normal operations, it is also involved in software development with Zenuity, performance cars with Polestar, owns a stake in Lynk & Co., and is adapting to the opportunities of autonomous driving, electrification and connectivity. This management structure makes sure that this growth and change is properly coordinated,” he said.
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Other members of Volvo Cars’ executive management team also have similar coordinating responsibilities. Björn Annwall, senior vice president strategy, brand and retail, is also responsible for coordinating vehicle line management, product strategy and consumer and enterprise digital, while Henrik Green, senior vice president research and development, is also responsible for coordinating purchasing and quality.