Doug Speck, the American who will step down as Volvo Car's global sales and marketing boss, says he's leaving to be near his family in the United States after two years in Sweden.
Speck's surprise departure was one of two key personnel changes announced by Volvo last week. The 54-year-old Ford veteran says he helped strengthen Volvo's brand identity and product strategy during his stint abroad.
"We wanted to get back to the States," said Speck, who previously ran Volvo Cars of North America for three years. "A couple of months ago I talked to the CEO [Hakan Samuelsson] and said I needed to work out a way to transition out of the job."
He will be succeeded by Alain Visser, now vice president of sales and marketing for the Chinese-owned Swedish automaker.
Speck said he will move to Ann Arbor, Mich., with his wife to be near two daughters who are attending the University of Michigan.
"I probably will do something correlated to the industry, but not manufacturer-based employment," he said, declining further comment on his plans.
Speck leaves Volvo at a time when sales are down worldwide and in the United States. Through April, global sales fell 6.4 percent to 33,702. U.S. sales were down 8 percent to 19,571 in the first four months of 2013.
He said Volvo has made progress in China, where he has been mostly focused for the past year. China was Volvo's biggest market in April, with sales up 30 percent over last year.
"We are the fastest growing major luxury brand in China," he said. "We have some momentum there right now and they asked me to continue to work as an adviser through the end of the year."
Before Speck ran Volvo U.S. operations he was in charge of sales and marketing for Volvo North America.
He joined Ford Motor Co. as a regional merchandising manager in 1993 and moved to Jaguar, which Ford then owned. He became head of retail sales for Jaguar and Land Rover in the United States in 2001.
Speck said one of his key accomplishments at Volvo was helping develop a brand strategy.
"Volvo wants to be the most human brand," he said. "The Germans are good at being precise but they are cold and austere. Volvo can make you warm and safe and provide you luxury in a different way."
Volvo also said Axel Maschka, senior vice president of purchasing, will leave Volvo. Lars Wrebo, currently senior vice president of manufacturing, will head the new unit effective July 1.