Volvo Car has increased its management focus on product.
Chief Executive Tuve Johannesson has trimmed three sales executives from the executive management board and realigned other assignments. Among the 10 executives remaining on the board after 1 July, five are directly responsible for product areas and two represent marketing.
By taking the overseas executives off the executive board, they will have more time to manage their operations in the Far East, Japan and North America. The board meets 22 times a year, and the executives were spending a lot of time in airplanes.
Volvo is also shedding a matrix organization where business and market functions were grouped by the 400, 800 and 900 models.
The new organization is more traditional, based on function.
However, the top product people now represent platforms, not models.
Luc Bracke in Brussels heads the small platform, which has produced the S40/V40 models built at the NedCar joint venture with Mitsubishi. Bertil Thoren is in charge of the larger platform, which will launch its first car by the end of the decade. Both are members of the management board.
Purchasing responsibility will move to board member Hans Gustavsson, who is also in charge of product and process development.
Christer Palm, now vice-president for purchasing, becomes president of Volvo Car International.
'We think we will be quicker to make decisions,' said Palm. The new structure simplified things, he said. 'Work between the functions will be more integrated.'
Palm will be in charge of sales in India, South Africa, South America, the Middle East and eastern Europe. He is based in Sweden.
Volvo's four other sales regions are Japan, the Far East, North America and Europe.
The marketing executives report to Johannesson. Hans-Olaf Olsson, in charge of sales in Europe, is also on the executive board.
Volvo has traditionally been strong in marketing, and most top executives have experience in the sales area.
The management changes put product concerns on a more equal footing with marketing at the board level.
Volvo is introducing new products rapidly as it tries to expand annual sales from 370,000 to 500,000 units over the next three years.