21 Feb 18

Hans Hygrell, Volvo: “Most ambitious plans in automotive with electrification strategy”

August 2017  saw the global fleet sales team of Volvo Cars strategically reshuffled. Sales and direct customer contact should reside within the regions and so John Wallace moved to the EMEA region as Director of Fleet Operations and Global Major Accounts, with his account management team and business centre. When it comes to developing fleet within Volvo itself and its markets, a global function clearly has a role to play and so Hans Hygrell was appointed Director of Used Car and Fleet Development at Volvo Car Corporation. We asked him to explain the company’s thinking in this respect.

What is your view of the global aspect of the market?

Hans Hygrell: The world and  its economy are  huge global  marketplaces, but thanks to technology they are shrinking. In my role it’s crucial to have a global overview. We see the growth and the opportunities for both Used cars and Fleet within the car cycle, emerging in places like APAC and LATAM. When you talk about development, these regions have to be in scope, if we are to help them achieve the levels of the EMEA region in the main for fleet. We also have an internal education role within VCC to bring both used cars and fleet up the agenda.

Isn’t that the same for Sales? 

Not really. Of course we are a global brand and we sell and want to sell our cars and services everywhere, but if you talk about international corporate customers, strategic and purchasing decisions are taken at HQ. And for our customers these HQs are mostly in Europe. And we want our sales team to be close to customer decision-making. Of course there is alignment across continents and across functions, so the global aspect has not disappeared and never will. But in terms of organisation, communication and process efficiency it made absolute sense to link international sales to the regions. 

What will 2018 bring? 

We are entering a new phase of growth on our transformation journey started back in 2012. We have the luxury of having a new and great line-up with new XC60, V90, XC90 and the new XC40. And in 2018 we will continue (Volvo will launch the new V60 in Geneva – ed.) We’re on a roll. Not only with our products also with our service innovations and partnerships with both internal Geely companies such as Polestar and Lynk & Co and externally such as Uber.

What do you mean?

We have launched ‘Care by Volvo’ which is all inclusive private leasing. Care by Volvo is a subscription-based private lease offered directly with Volvo. It has been offered first on the new XC40  with a 24 month contract offered in  Sweden, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, Norway, Poland and the United States. Other markets will follow at a later stage.

Volvo XC40

The new Volvo XC40

What’s unique about Care by Volvo ? 

We call it premium subscription which differs from existing leasing offers in a number of ways, as it includes a number of services not available any other way such as digital concierge services including refuelling in some markets. It also allows some flexibility to switch cars temporarily to suit needs eg a larger car for the weekend. It also removes price negotiations through online ordering with no customer, age or geographical price difference with a unified price in the Eurozone . Customer research shows this to be the one of the most disliked parts of the buying process. 

Volvo has decided to add an electric powertrain variant for every new model launch. Do you think diesel is dead in Europe?

No, it is not dead but it is changing. Of course, there will be diesel powertrains for many years for specific mobility needs and haulage for example, but passenger mobility will begin to move to alternatives, such as electrification. With the improvement in battery technology, the legal pressures, urbanisation, new mentalities around CSR, combined with mobility being based on use, the interest in electric is growing. Also with the fleet planners agendas. But in the short term, diesel will still be key in the corporate segment. 

In your previous role as Global Used Cars Director you were based in China. What makes the largest car market in the world so challenging when it comes to fleet?

China is the most complex market there is. It’s huge, it’s diverse with provinces and mega-cities which have their own legislation and maturity curve. It’s fast changing in development, infrastructure, and also legislation can change overnight so it isn’t easy for either customers or suppliers to develop and install a sustainable strategy. And with regard to the automotive and fleet business it’s a very competitive market with tremendous price pressure powered by local suppliers, which can affect the service quality of course. But it’s an important market where the need for mobility and access to mobility solutions will continue to grow rapidly. With our parent company Geely,we are of course well positioned and we have when it comes to deploying new products and services in China. 

What do you do to escape from business at the weekend? 

I enjoy family life and I own a boat like many Swedes. Nothing more relaxing than sailing my boat off the Gothenburg coastline in the long summer days.

Authored by: Steven Schoefs