Volvo's Lex Kerssemakers is getting a crash course in the new world of car ownership, namely the move to subscriptions from leasing, while simultaneously trying to bring some of his sage automotive knowledge into the mix.
“What I bring is the old world because 70 percent of what my team is doing is what we have been doing for a 100 years. But it's that 30 percent that is brand new,” said Kerssemakers, who has been leading a new board-level unit at Volvo called Direct Consumer Business for about a year.
That 30 percent includes the online marketing and sales and the digitalization of the entire process.
One key challenge has been reducing the steps it takes for a customer to complete a subscription to a car via the Care by Volvo scheme.
Kerssemakers said that it can take less than one minute to finish the order for a car – or five to six clicks.
He added, however, that even if Volvo brings down the level of commitment substantially via a subscription, it is still a car that a person is getting so certain steps must be there.
The longtime Volvo executive is also finding that his tech-savvy experts do things very differently. “They adapt overnight,” he said. “You cannot approach this that same way as other parts of the business.”
Kerssemakers initially thought he could handle the automaker’s online retail responsibilities in addition to his previous role as Volvo's head of global commercial operations.
“That's a mistake I made in my previous job where I said I would do this [the online duties] and my wholesale business," he said. "No way. It's conflicting interests. It doesn't work like that.”