Thomas Sedran, a former corporate consultant with AlixPartners, was the brains behind Volkswagen Group's Together – Strategy 2025 midterm road map. VW's former CEO, Matthias Müller, appointed Sedran head of group strategy in November 2015 to plot a course toward an electrified future after the automaker's diesel-cheating scandal.
Sedran switched jobs last month, returning to an executive role, where he will run Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. This will put him in an ideal position to realize the goals he mapped out when he began talks with Ford Motor Co. over a strategic alliance rooted in the two companies' commercial vehicle businesses.
He is no stranger to the executive suite, having been interim CEO of Opel and later head of Chevrolet Europe. Sedran, who turns 54 this week, spoke with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Christiaan Hetzner.
Q:Why did Volkswagen partner with Ford?
A:Other companies are already in alliances, but now the two market leaders in Europe are joining forces. We won't have a dominant market position, however, as we each have only 15 percent.
How were the initial talks?
We realized fairly fast it worked from a cultural perspective, and there was the right chemistry between the main players.
Did you consider other candidates?
Ford was a logical partner. The product life cycles are a good match. We will build for them, and they will build for us.
Could this extend from light commercial vehicles into passenger cars, or does VW already have the scale it needs?
On the passenger-car side, neither company really has the volume pressure. But there are, naturally, fields where splitting the development costs could be an advantage. I wouldn't rule out anything, but the focus is getting the LCV projects running. We want a concrete project vehicle that has a certain volume, and then you can talk about other strategic issues.
VW Group is nearly twice the size of Ford. What is the risk that the two teams will struggle to get along with such a size discrepancy?
When we finalize this alliance, you can be assured it will be balanced. There is no junior nor senior partner, but, rather, two companies at eye level that will closely cooperate with one another. There might be specific years where there will be a difference in production volumes, but in the sum total, it is very balanced.