New Volvo Cars CEO Jim Rowan has set a high standard for the first model that debuts under his leadership. He wants the replacement for the XC90 to get Volvo “recognized as a very credible next-generation electrified car company.” The new flagship SUV is a key part of the automaker’s rapid shift toward becoming an electric-only brand, a move that is guiding every hiring, investment and design decision the company makes -- including its pending exit from industry group ACEA. Rowan is confident that going all-electric will also pay dividends in the U.S. -- where some rivals expect the transition to be slower -- because he figures that if Tesla did it, why can’t Volvo? He discussed this and more with Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc.
The second-generation XC90 was the beginning of your predecessor Hakan Samuelsson’s successful run as Volvo CEO. Will your soon-to-be-revealed third generation of your flagship SUV give you a chance to signal the start of your era as chief executive given that it will have a new name, a new design and a new platform?
As a CEO, you get those accolades, but I have never worked in a successful company that doesn't have a massively successful team behind the CEO. A lot of the same people who were masters of their craft for the last XC90 are still within the company and helping us build the next-generation vehicle. What I would love to see is that the car gets us recognized as a very credible next-generation electrified car company.