The picture of the world that Martin Lundstedt portrayed during his presentation on 25 March was one where the Volvo Group, like countless other groups, has had to press the pause button in many respects.
- This is a crisis and a situation that most of us have never experienced before. It is a health and safety crisis and the Volvo Group's priority has been to protect and support our employees and partners, says Martin Lundstedt.
According to Lundstedt, the Volvo Group has adapted its operations in line with the developments of the pandemic and the ways that it has been dealt with in the 190 countries where the company has representations and works closely with public authorities and governments. However, not everything has been at a standstill. Many employees who have been laid off have received supplementary training, the company's service-related activities have essentially continued as usual and, to a certain extent, a transition to production of protective equipment for healthcare has been taken place. After the major shut-down, the company can now perceive a gradual return to a changed world.
- We work on many different platforms: with the government, in Europe and the EU Commission and a number of other initiatives in order to gain an overall picture. The crisis is so expansive and complex that we have to ensure that society's collective resources are used in a way that we might not have seen before, says Lundstedt.
Change is part of the way forward
According to Martin Lundstedt, the Volvo Group is in the process of a restart that involves a gradual return to a new normalisation which will require some changes:
- For a number of years, our work has followed the main theme of 'perform and transform', which is very telling for the situation that we are currently in.
- What was important before the crisis will be just as important afterwards. In some cases, however, we must accelerate the development - partly because we might not have the same resources that we we able to count on earlier. That means we have to focus on the areas where we know it will have an effect, such as electrification and sustainability, says Lundstedt.
The areas that the Volvo Group has identified as being of particular interest include increased electrification for both local and long-distance travel, complementary renewable fuels, such as bio-energy and hydrogen gas, fuel and route optimisation with the assistance of AI systems, and automatisation of transport systems.
Sustainability and society
When Martin Lundstedt fielded questions from the audience, he expanded on the company's approach with respect to anchoring local ties throughout the world, international collaboration and the circular economy. Regarding the first issue, Lundstedt believes in stronger regional networks with suppliers in order to ensure shorter lead times and increased resiliency when facing unexpected changes in world. And the global and European perspective were highlighted on a few occasions as keys to a successful restart:
- We need to work internationally, particularly within the EU, in order to get everything moving again. It is good that they want to emphasise the Green Deal, the inner market, the bank union and increased resiliency. Those are areas we are good at. That's where we will make a contribution, says Lundstedt, who can also envision a renewal bonus in order to recycle as many heavy vehicles and a much heavy equipment as possible in order to increase sustainability and establish circularity.
An additional aspect is that the group sees collaboration as the best way going forward, including in Gothenburg, which Lundstedt described as one of the global clusters for mobility and transport.
- We already saw earlier that partnership is the new leadership - and that is the whole idea behind Lindholmen Science Park. Everyone is also talking about ecosystems and what is great about Lindholmen Science Park is that it is a true ecosystem with all components, says Martin Lundstedt, who highlighted Lindholmen Science Park as an exemplary arena in which research and innovation within mobility and the transport sector are combined with a real workshop.