HANS-OLOV Olsson has spent his entire career traveling the globe in the service of Volvo, his first and only employer in the car business. Wherever Olsson has gone, he has shown results. He gave Volvo a viable presence in Japan and expanded business in the USA, the Swedish carmaker's largest market. Now his challenge is to keep growing Volvo as a part of Ford's Premier Automotive Group. Olsson is a fervent outdoorsman who loves rising early and jogging. He recently motivated 1,400 Volvo colleagues to take part in the Gothenburg half marathon. As he spoke to Automotive News Europe, Olsson was headed to Volvo's test track for another spin in the XC90, Volvo's soon-to-be released sport-utility - and a car he has already fallen in love with.
Name: Hans-Olov Olsson.
Title: President, Volvo Car Corp.; vice president, Ford Motor Co.
Previous job: President and CEO, Volvo Cars of North America Inc.
Lives in: Gothenburg, Sweden.
Family: Married to Monika. We have two daughters, Ellika and Lovisa, and three grandchildren.
Education: MBA from University of Gothenburg, studied international senior management at Harvard University in Vevey, Switzerland.
First job in the car business: Systems engineer in production planning, procurement and logistics with Volvo in 1966.
First car: A Volvo PV544. I bought it from a work colleague. I paid Skr500 (equivalent to 54.6 today) for it in 1966.
What cars are in your garage?
Three Volvos: a S60AWD with turbo; a V70 Cross Country Ocean Race limited edition; and a copy of my first company car, a white Amazon. My first company car (in 1969) was actually a red Amazon with white leather interior.
What cars have you most admired?
My first car, the PV544. Another would be the XC90. With all the test-driving we have done, I know this car pretty well.
What is in your car's CD player?
Bruce Springsteen live at Madison Square Garden in New York. I was at that concert two years ago; it was unbelievable. I also listen to Beethoven, Mozart and Handel. If you're on big roads you play classical music. On narrow roads you play Bruce Springsteen.
Swedish and Japanese. When I lived in Japan (while head of Volvo's Japanese subsidiary) I got hooked on sushi and so on.
Sjomagasinet here in Gothenberg. The chef, Leif Mannerstrom, is superb. In the USA, I like the Four Seasons in Manhattan.
An Ingmar Bergman movie called The Seventh Seal.
What is your passion?
To be alive. You must be very grateful when you wake up every morning and you have a job and friends around you. Nothing can compete with that.
What is your greatest achievement?
My job today. Another big challenge was when I came to Japan in 1990, at the end of the bubble economy. That was tough. All of a sudden the bubble burst.
What has been your worst crisis in business?
When I went to Japan. It was a new environment and the economy was dropping dead. But we made a solid business for Volvo in Japan.
Have you ever been tempted to leave the auto industry?
I've been offered other jobs, but I've always stayed.
What company do you admire outside the auto industry?
Sweden's Ikea. An entrepreneur called Ingvar Kamprad made a global company out of very solid, simple business ideals.
How do you relax?
At my weekend house with my family (at Stromstad, Sweden). It's an island along the Swedish west coast. I also jog in the mornings and recently ran a half marathon here in Gothenburg.
What is the next big thing in the auto business?
There's a lot of talk about crossovers. The carrier for that will be alternative fuels and drivetrains.
Your greatest fear?
To lose my family.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I am stubborn. In business maybe it's good. In private life, maybe not.
What were the greatest holidays you ever had?
The first was New Zealand and the southern island. It's a fantastic country from an adventure point of view. The second was Argentina and Patagonia. I love nature and adventures and outdoor life.
Other than your family, what are your most treasured possessions?
My friends, and also cars such as my Amazon. I have a wonderful weekend house. I bought a new boat.