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Volvo India chief on future plans and business mantra

Last updated on: April 20, 2012 10:43 IST

Volvo India chief on future plans and business mantra

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18 years in Volvo with a dream to run the global company in the future, Volvo India's young Swede boss Tomas Ernberg is new to the crowded Indian auto bazaar. But crowds don't bother him much since he grew up in Turkey, when the country was not even considered a tourist destination. Emerging economy experience there paid off as Tomas learnt to be flexible and persistent and deal with bustling markets.

A quick letter to Sweden's top auto major and Tomas was inducted as a trainee and since then he hasn't looked back. He took the reins of Volvo's the fledging business in Turkey and learnt to dirty his hands on the market floor. In India after a recent stint in Dubai, Tomas is getting up to speed with the very fast growing auto sector here. Fierce competition from BMW and Audi doesn't bother them since Volvo has miles to go. Expect a new compact SUV from their stable called EcoSport later this year.

Tomas Ernberg spoke to the award winning Shaili Chopra on her signature show Tee Time exclusively on ETNOW

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Volvo India chief on future plans and business mantra

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Your story in Volvo is that of a rising star, how did you land up a job with them even though you were based in Istanbul?

In 1994 after finishing with my Economics degree in Ankara, I started looking for a job in Turkey. I certainly liked the culture and people there hence had no intentions of leaving, but main reason was that I was in love with a Turksih girl who I later married!

The first level of beginning my professional life was to apply for a job and like any optimistic young man fresh out of college, I applied to all 25 Swedish companies based in Istanbul.

As destiny had it planned, the first positive response that I got was from Volvo. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and have been with the company since.

Why did you choose to go with this company?

Volvo is undoubtedly a fantastic company to work with. Across markets, our mid to top level employees have been spent about 15 years on an average with the company. This is a company which holds integrity, respect, work satisfaction and open culture as paramount.

We have grown steadily in terms workforce, market share and portfolio, which goes a long way in keeping each employee motivated and committed to the company and vice-versa.

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Volvo India chief on future plans and business mantra

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What are they key business challenges for a business like yours, after all you need to please the customer at all points?

Today the discerning customers want complete value for their money and are absolutely conscious of what all the market has to offer.

At Volvo our endeavour remains to offer customers world class craftsmanship and luxury, highly efficient & powerful drive trains coupled with class leading safety technology made available at a very compelling price point.

How has the rapid change in technology impacted your business, for example, each auto firm is expected to have a USP- what's yours?

Volvo has always been at the forefront of technology not only in India but the world over. Technological superiority is one of our core product offers today. Volvo has always presented the best technology with exclusive features such as 'City Safety', 'Advanced Stability Control', and 'Engine Drag Control' amongst numerous others.

Technology is imperative to our business and we are always re-inventing ourselves to offer customers the best.

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Volvo India chief on future plans and business mantra

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How is the Indian market more challenging than others in the current economic scenario?

The biggest challenge Volvo faces in India is to make our brand's presence felt in the luxury car segment, and for this the approach is neither conventional nor head-on. We have not gone the traditional route of advertising heavily as that makes gauging our customer base (present and potential) much more difficult.

In fact, we have concentrated our energies on ensuring presence at places that would allow direct interface with customers.

We are associated with international golf property - Avantha Masters, the prestigious Lakme Fashion Week, Chennai Open etc - which serve as ideal platforms to meet customers.

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Volvo India chief on future plans and business mantra

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How do you plan to grow the business in India?

We've already struck an aggressive chord at the start of this year with the launch of a smaller 2-litre diesel engine called D3 - designed to deliver 163 horsepower with an impressive 400 Nm torque.

As the engine was smaller than what was existed in our portfolio, we were able to offer aggressive pricing that attracted newer customers. As a matter of fact, we have had great customer response on D3. Our expansion will happen in a controlled manner.

India's appetite for luxury cars is huge and what we see today is just the surface. In 2007, the penetration of luxury cars was 0.2 per cent of total car sales.

Last year, there were around 20,000 cars sold, a penetration of almost 1%. Evidently, the growth was 10 fold.

By 2020, we are talking of 150,000 luxury cars being sold. By that time Volvo will be selling 20,000 cars annually, with around 50 per cent of the market share in luxury cars in India.

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What's your business mantra?

Respect people & cultures, entrepreneurship and do not forget to have fun!

To date, what is your proudest golf accomplishment?

During one and same round hitting 1 birdie and 6 pars.

What course is on your bucket list that you have not played yet?

Fancourt in Cape Town S.A. where the Volvo World Golf Championships will be played in Janaury 2013.

Dream foursome?

Rory McIroy, Martin Kaymer, Jeev Milkha Singh and myself.

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