Longtime Volvo executive Lex Kerssemakers is now strategic advisor at the Swedish automaker after new CEO Jim Rowan hand-picked him for the role. Rowan is the 10th chief executive Kerssemakers, 62, has worked for at the company. The Dutch national has a deep understanding of Volvo’s product, purchasing, sales and marketing arms. That gives him an enviable perspective on how Volvo will use technology to continue its digital evolution. Kerssemakers outlined key lessons Volvo has learned as it strives to boost online sales, to offer autonomous driving and to provide even more in-car features without sacrificing on safety. He recently spoke with Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc.
How has Volvo balanced its desire to pack cars with technology with its commitment to safety?
When we launched the current XC90 in 2015, we made a big thing out of there being one touchscreen, which should be relatively easy to operate. We could have loaded it with all kinds of different features, but we decided in 2011-12 against this. People would have had so much to deal with, which would undermine the safety of the car. We knew we needed to have a certain level of features because people expected it, but we had to determine how to distribute that in a way that it's still safe and people are not overwhelmed. When I look now at new cars in general, and I think we can proud of what we achieved with our system. The amount of information in a car should be easy to handle. That's what we will continue to do also in the next generation of cars.