The new board of directors at Volvo Car Corp. held its first meeting in Gothenburg, Sweden, last week to review the ongoing process of integrating the company with Ford Motor Co.
Since Ford's purchase of Volvo was announced in January, about 20 integration teams have been formed. They have been busy studying ways the two companies can best be combined, said William Cosgrove, vice president of business and product strategy at Ford.
One of the top priorities is to study both companies' suppliers and see where common parts can be bought and used, said Ingmar Hesslefors, Volvo spokesman. Ford and Volvo want to use as many common components as possible without jeopardizing the uniqueness of the Volvo brand. The integration teams have reviewed the supplier lists of both companies. There are more common suppliers than either company realized, said Hesslefors. Volvo has about 450 primary suppliers; Ford has a much larger list.
All the integration teams have been meeting regularly, starting with top executives, then 'cascading down' through both organizations, said Cosgrove.
The teams are meeting not only in Gothenburg and Dearborn, Michigan, USA, but in other locations around the world, including emerging markets such as Africa and Asia.
Officials at both Ford and Volvo declined to be specific about any of the 20 projects under way. Cosgrove said areas being studied include: manufacturing, components, distribution, logistics, powertrain, finance, and public relations.
Cosgrove is a 27-year Ford veteran who played an integral role in the Volvo acquisition and is helping guide the integration as a member of the new board. He reports directly to Ford President Jac Nasser.
Former BMW executive Wolfgang Reitzle, recently named chairman of Ford's new luxury-car organization Premier Automotive Group, is chairman of the new board. He and Volvo Car President Tuve Johannesson will run Volvo.
Other than Cosgrove, Ford officials on the mostly Swedish board include Richard Parry-Jones, Ford group vice president of product development, and Robert Rewey.
Reitzle has already paid several visits to Volvo headquarters and manufacturing operations in Gothenburg. He said the place reminds him a little of his former employer, BMW.
'The technology is super ... at the highest level,' he said. 'It is at least of the same quality as BMW at Dingolfing (Germany). It has the same robots, the same systems, only more space.'
Reitzle sees Volvo as a versatile brand. Asked if either the Jaguar or Volvo brands could support a sport-utility vehicle, Reitzle said: 'If I had to make a choice, I would go for Volvo because the Volvo brand is associated with robustness, safety, the family, roominess, functionality - a perfect fit.'