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Former Volvo CEO Jacoby to Run GM International Operations

Former IO chief Tim Lee now to head GM’s huge China empire.

by on Aug.02, 2013

Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby duing an appearance at the LA Auto Show.

With nearly two out of every three General Motors products now being sold outside of North America, the maker is stepping up its efforts to keep momentum building, especially in China and other emerging markets – and that’s led to some key personnel changes that include the hiring of an industry veteran to run GM International Operations.

Stefan Jacoby, who most recently served as CEO of Volvo Cars after the Swedish maker was purchased by China’s Geely, will come aboard as Executive Vice President Consolidated International Operations for GM, a fittingly long title considering he will oversee operations in over 100 countries in the maker’s Asia/Pacific, European, Middle East and African regions.

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Meanwhile, Tim Lee, who had been running GM IO for four years will become chairman of GM China, a position that will put him in charge of a fast-growing universe of 12 join ventures, two foreign operations, a major new R&D center and more than 55,000 employees. GM is currently battling it out in China for the number one sales slot against Volkswagen AG where, coincidentally, Jacoby spent a chunk of his career.

“The GM team has plans to win in every market, and I’m eager to contribute,” Jacoby said.

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Volvo Accelerating Plans for China

When is a Swedish carmaker not a Swedish carmaker?

by on Apr.30, 2012

The Volvo Concept You hints at the direction the maker plans to take, including its shift to small 4-cylinder and battery-based powertrains.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to call Volvo a Swedish car company.  These days, most of its top management – headed by CEO Stefan Jacoby, a former Volkswagen executive – is German and it is now owned by China’s big Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

Further confusing things, Volkswagen may soon have as much or more production capacity in China as it does in Europe, Jacoby confided in TheDetroitBureau.com during a conversation at the Beijing Motor Show.

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Work is already underway to erect Volvo’s first Chinese assembly plant and, he confirmed, everything is in place to add a second Chinese factory.  But now, he revealed, “We are considerating a powertrain plant in the greater Beijing region” that would likely meet most or all the engine and transmission needs for both those assembly lines.

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Geely Investing $11 Bil in Volvo

Plans to rapidly expand Swedish maker’s presence in China.

by on Apr.09, 2012

Geely Chairman Li Shufu and Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby.

Volvo is about to get a helping hand – a big one – from its Chinese parent, Geely Automobile Holdings, which plans to pump $11 billion into the Swedish maker.

According to a report in Wirtschafts Woche, the investment is intended to increase Volvo’s presence in the growing Chinese market.  Among other things, Geely wants to increase Volvo’s R&D, introduce new technologies and build a new engine plant.  Volvo is planning to migrate to a 4-cylinder-only powertrain strategy in the coming years.

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“We want to revive Volvo and give the brand its strength back,” Geely Chairman Li Shufu told the German weekly.

Exactly where the money will come from is a matter of debate.  While Chairman Li made it sound like Geely will be raising the capital, Volvo Per-Ake Froberg told the Reuters news service that the Swedish maker will have to come up with the capital.

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Volvo Planning $10 bil Investment

Swedish maker focusing on China as it sets out to double sales by 2020.

by on Feb.28, 2011

Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby wants to double sales.

China will play a key role in the planned doubling of global sales for Volvo Cars, the maker’s top executives revealed, as they outlined an ambitious plan to invest at least $10 billion in the company’s future.

That strategy will require a hefty investment by its new parent, China’s Geely Holding Group, said Geely CEO Li Shufu, though he stressed the two firms will continue to operate as “completely independent automaker(s).”

But increasingly, industry observers stress, the future of Volvo and Geely will become inextricably linked.

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“We plan to invest $10 to $11 billion over the next five years globally,” Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby told the Associated Press.  That money will go towards not only a new assembly plant in China, but also help the maker develop a critical new platform and a new line of powertrains – both of which would be shared among a variety of future Volvo products.

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Volvo Aiming To Double Sales by 2020

Swedish maker counting on big growth in China – but U.S. remains critical.

by on Nov.23, 2010

The hare beats the tortoise? Stefan Jacoby plans to get Volvo moving fast under its new Chinese owners.

According to Aesop, it took the slow but steady tortoise to beat the hare.  Don’t count on it, says Volvo Cars’ news CEO, Stefan Jacoby.  In today’s ever more competitive auto market, “the fast ones are eating the slow ones.”

Never known for setting a benchmark pace, the former Volkswagen executive says Volvo now plans to be “leaner, better, smarter and, especially, faster,” as it adjusts to life under Chinese ownership.

Sold earlier this year by Ford Motor Co., which decided it needs to get back to basics, Volvo hopes to more than double sales – to 800,000 annually – by 2020.  That goal will not only require speed by a shift in focus, Jacoby told TheDetroitBureau.com.  Look for Volvo to put more emphasis on emerging markets, including places like Brazil, as well as China.  But, Jacoby cautioned, don’t expect the maker to walk away from the U.S., which has traditionally served as its largest single source of sales.

The sale of Volvo to Zhejiang Geely Holding Group came at a critical came, said Jacoby.  The maker has suffered a significant slide, in recent years, only partially to blame on the global economic downturn.  Global sales are expected to reach just 380,000 for all of 2010, and in the U.S. demand is off almost 60% from its 2004 peak – from 140,000 down to just 60,000.

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But Jacoby is the proverbial optimist, looking at what he sees as a half-full glass.  “We are standing at the bottom looking up,” he said.

Part of the challenge will be to find the way to take advantage of the resources – and potential – offered by the Swedish maker’s new parent and Volvo’s Chinese sibling, the Geely brand.

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Jonathan Browning Takes Over as VWoA CEO

German maker putting increased emphasis on U.S. market, says new Volkswagen of America boss. It's not a new claim.

by on Sep.13, 2010

New VWoA CEO Jonathan Browning.

Volkswagen has appointed industry veteran Jonathan Browning the new chief executive officer of its U.S. subsidiary, filling a critical vacancy created by the unexpected departure of Volkswagen of America CEO Stefan Jacoby, who left unexpectedly in June.

It comes as something of a homecoming for Browning, who has lived in the U.S. twice – once to earn an MBA from Duke University – and who previously worked for both General Motors and Ford Motor Co.

“We know we have a lot of work to do,” Browning declared during a news conference at the National Press Club, in Washington, D.C., not far from the automaker’s suburban U.S. headquarters.  Noting that VW aims to boost sales to 800,000 by 2018, the new CEO said, “We have set ourselves some big goals, but I am confident we can do this.”

With an expertise in marketing and sales, the 51-year-old Browning has had something of an unusual career for a European automotive executive, moving from one maker to another a number of times since launching his career at General Motors in 1981.  He eventually left for Ford, where he served as Managing Director of Jaguar from 1997 through 2001.  He eventually returned to GM, but left following  the maker’s plunge into bankruptcy.

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In June of this year, Browning resurfaced, this time at Volkswagen headquarters, in Wolfsburg, Germany, where he was put in charge of national sales efforts for all 10 of the company’s brands.  It was a plumb assignment overseeing sales that have risen, on a global scale to 6 million annually.

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