LONDON - There are currently seven different satellite navigation systems in use across the five brands that make up Premier Automotive Group.
Anders Franzen (right) and his boss, Premier Chairman Wolfgang Reitzle, believe that is at least four too many.
It is part of Franzen's job to reduce that number. The two or three satellite navigation systems that Premier eventually will use will probably have common electronic architecture. But they will appear different to individual customers of Premier's Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln and Volvo brands.
Eventually, Franzen will return to Volvo, where he has worked for 14 years. For now, Franzen belongs to Premier - a much smaller org-anization, but one that will exert a big influence on Volvo, the other companies in the Premier group, and indeed parent Ford Motor Co. itself.
Franzen's job title, director of product and technical planning, doesn't give a clear indication of the scope of his responsibility. He is Premier's representative in the 'global intelligent purchasing
matrix' within Ford, presided over by Ford's global purchasing chief Carlos Mazzorin. The group includes the purchasing organizations of the other Premier brands.
Franzen and his team are responsible for making sure the purchasing executives at each of the five Premier brands realize the economies of scale they can get from being part of a large group within a huge corporation (Ford).
But they must gain those economies of scale without compromising core brand values.
'We have a big role to play to safeguard the brands, maybe even protect the brands from over-ambitious consolidation within the (Ford) corporation,' Franzen says. 'What we do on a strategic level is to recommend where we can find synergies - and also where we get too much commonality and start diluting the brands.'
Franzen bases his actions upon one guiding equation: that 40 percent of the total component purchasing bill for a vehicle consists of 'brand unique' components, things that the customer touches and feels.
These areas include the instrument panel, body and instrument cluster.
The other 60 percent of the component bill is 'brand transparent,' made up of parts that cannot be seen or felt.
The alternator, transmission and electrical system are good examples.
Franzen and his group will work with purchasing directors at the various Premier brands to find common suppliers for those hidden components.
When choosing navigation systems, for example, the team will be guided - up to a point - by potential savings. But that won't be the only objective. Premier brands will not hesitate to use Ford components, but only where it is appropriate.
'You would not put a Fiesta 1.1-liter alternator into a Jaguar,' says Franzen. 'It just can't do the job. But then again, if we have a suitable alternator in a Ford Transit, and if it has the efficiencies and is cost-effective and package-effective - then why not?'
Franzen, a 39-year-old Swede, came to London from Gothenburg, where he had been chief of Volvo purchasing operations for two years.
Like the rest of Premier's tiny 'virtual' organization, which consists of about 20 people, Franzen is based in the unmarked old Georgian house in tree-lined Berkeley Square, London, that serves as Premier's headquarters.
Franzen gets plenty of help from two other team members: John Schneider, a 36-year-old American who was an electrical engineer and product planner at Ford, and John Smith, a 31-year-old Briton who was a specialist in product and cycle planning at Jaguar.
The team has no real authority to order purchasing directors at different brands to buy from a certain supplier.
What Franzen wants to do is use 'mixed degrees of diplomacy and 1/8arm bending' to migrate them into a strategy that takes us where we need to be'.
The Premier purchasing team does not negotiate directly with suppliers. That task is left up to the individual purchasing directors at the brands. In the process, the Premier team is acting as a network-building organization, building ties between all the brands.
Says Richard Elsy, Jaguar director of product engineering: 'We already have a tremendous relationship with the Volvo guys. It's perfectly natural.'
Franzen's team meets regularly with the representatives from individual Premier brands, either face-to-face or via teleconference.
'We simply cannot know everything that's going on in each and every company,' Franzen says. What the Premier team wants to do is keep abreast of major vehicle programs at the brands.
'We go and sit down with the programs regularly and do a snapshot of where they are and what technical issues they're facing,' he says.
Like so much else about Premier, the purchasing function is working in a new way. Where it leads, all of Ford could eventually follow.
'We've got to invent it as we go along,' says Franzen. 'That makes it extremely interesting and challenging. It's not as though we go in Monday morning and get our tasks presented to us. It's much more driven by ourselves.'