A grand old European car company struggling for identity, treading water, and with management to answer in Detroit. Not Opel-Vauxhall (well, it is…), but the position Volvo was in in 2010, before Ford sold it to Chinese company Geely.
At face value, the similarity between the position of Volvo and Opel probably ends there, for Volvo was taken over by a company with money to spend but no desire to dictate how it was spent so long as the profits and sales went up, whole Opel finds itself with a new owner looking to integrate it into its own business.
Yet the position is similar, according to Volvo boss Hakan Samuelsson. He wasn’t at the head of the company when Geely bought the Swedish firm (he joined in 2012) but he’s overseen the transformation of it since. He recalls how Volvo was faced with two options: make the cars more premium and expensive, or to cut costs and increase the economies of scale.
“We [Volvo] needed more valuable cars, more premium cars. If you don’t follow that strategy, you have to do something on the cost side.” Samuelsson noted that making the cars more premium is a strategy Opel has tried itself before, but despite some good cars, it just hasn’t worked in the eyes of the consumer.