When he arrived at GAZ, the former Swedish army colonel was asked to resuscitate a company that was teetering toward bankruptcy.
In 2006, GAZ purchased the U.S. production tooling for the Chrysler Sebring and used it to produce the Volga Siber, a replacement for the Volga sedan that had been in production since 1974.
It was a costly investment. GAZ had hoped to produce 65,000 Sibers a year, but Andersson halted production after just 9,000 were produced.
"It was the wrong vehicle at the wrong time and the wrong cost," Andersson told Automotive News Europe. "I was concerned that we would build them and people would not buy them."
Toward the end of the Siber's run, Andersson introduced a pre-payment system for the car. No vehicles would be built unless GAZ had the money in advance.
Gazelle to the rescue
After he killed off the Siber, Andersson focused the company's limited resources on its Gazelle light commercial vehicle.
A copy of the fourth-generation Ford Transit from 1986, the Gazelle generated half the company's income, despite being sold virtually unchanged since its introduction in 1994.
Andersson introduced the pre-payment system for the Gazelle, and he also launched a campaign to upgrade its shaky quality.
He asked the company's 220 dealerships to report warranty claims at 3 p.m. daily, identifying the worst problems. "Fifty percent of issues came from the supply base," Andersson said.
Poorly made parts -- even those made in-house -- were jettisoned in favor of components from recognized suppliers.
Then GAZ introduced a face-lifted van dubbed Gazelle Business that was launched alongside the base van in 2010. Next year, GAZ will introduce a new, upmarket version of the van.
"We got the approval of ZF Sachs, Bosch, Magna and others to use their name," Andersson said. "It helped us to say to the Russian consumer, 'This is something different.' "
Last year, production rose to 130,725 units, which is back to pre-crisis levels. Remarkably, this was achieved with half the number of employees.