Why Volvo’s CEO says that after IPO ‘the work really starts’

STOCKHOLM — Volvo Cars gained 200,000 new shareholders even before trading of the automaker’s shares started on Friday in Sweden.

When asked how he felt about having that many new bosses, CEO Hakan Samuelsson said: “The more the merrier.”

He said the the 94-year-old’s company’s entry onto the Nasdaq Stockholm marks the start of Volvo’s next phase, which will include transforming into an electric-only brand by 2030 and providing the “best customer relations in the business” through an emphasis on direct-to-consumer online sales.

“And now we have the money for it,” Samuelsson joked minutes before ringing the opening bell for the opening of trading. At that moment, Volvo rejoined the exchange for the first time since 1999. That was the year it left Volvo Group and became part of Ford Motor. The U.S. automaker sold Volvo to its current owner, Zhejiang Geely Holding, in 2010.

During an interview after the ceremony Samuelsson said that the next phase is “a huge job.”

Electric flagship

Some of the money generated from the listing will go toward is a new flagship crossover that will succeed the XC90, Samuelsson told Automotive News Europe.

The electric-only premium large crossover is due to be revealed next year. Samuelsson said in March the car would have a name rather than a number and letter combination. He gave another hint today: The new car’s name will start with a vowel.

Another high-cost item the listing funds will help to finance is the cost of transforming to batteries to power new-generation Volvos. Part of that includes joining forces with Northvolt as a strategic partner for joint development and manufacturing of next generation battery cells.

Samuelsson said he looks forward to keeping an eye on Volvo’s share price as he considers it an immediate indicator of whether his thousands of new bosses feel the company’s transformation into an electric brand is heading in the right direction.

“Today, we are 3 percent electric. Nine years in the future, we should be 100 percent electric. Now is when the work really starts,” he said. “We need to change because our consumers are going in that direction. If you really want to have people driving Volvos in the future, you better make them electric.”

Humble and faster

The completion of the listing culminated a 180-degree turn that Volvo made in February when it decided against a merger with sister brand Geely Auto.

Volvo CFO Bjorn Annwall said that while the automaker was assessing the merger it decided that the pace of change within the industry made an initial public offering the better move.

“We concluded that it’s much better to have an ecosystem than to have a hard-coded group where you try to kind of have a perfect 10-year plan,” Annwall told ANE. “You’re much faster and more nimble if you have smaller, independent units that seek collaboration where it matters but are not forced to do it when it doesn’t matter, so let every company pursue its own happiness.”

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