Volvo creates U.S. and Canada division; Gustafsson will step down

Volvo Cars is restructuring its Americas business and spinning the U.S. and Canada markets into a separate unit.

Anders Gustafsson, 54, head of Volvo Cars Americas and CEO of Volvo Car USA, will give up his responsibilities March 1, three people briefed on the matter told sibling publication Automotive News.

Michael Cottone, a 21-year Volvo veteran and Western Region vice president, will take over the top job in the U.S. and Canada. Cottone, 43, will report to a Volvo Cars commercial executive, not to CEO Jim Rowan.

It’s unclear if Gustafsson plans to continue with Volvo or return to Sweden.

Volvo Car USA confirmed the reorganization to Automotive News.

“To support and ensure a strong focus on Volvo Cars’ ambitious goals for growth, full electrification and an omnichannel customer experience, the Americas region structure will evolve, creating a dedicated organization for the USA & Canada,” a spokesman said in an email.

Gustafsson’s exit surprised Volvo’s retailers, who appreciated the executive’s straight-shooter approach.

“The dealers are sick about it; they don’t understand it,” a dealer said. “In your lifetime, you come across very few charismatic leaders that can lead and deliver, and [Gustafsson] is one of them.”

Cottone’s elevation comes at a critical juncture for the business.

As Volvo pivots to an all-electric brand by 2030 and experiments with a new sales model, Cottone faces a dealer network still figuring out what the new strategy means for their business.

The Swedish automaker has laid out a strategy to sell battery-powered models online through and dealer websites — a prospect that has made some retailers nervous.

While the pandemic and supply shortages have been good for retailer margins, the new year brings change. Cottone and his team will have to navigate economic headwinds as inflation and interest rates bite into demand for big-ticket luxury vehicles.

In 2021, Volvo Cars said it planned to sell its battery-electric vehicles through an online model and deliver them to dealerships rather than having retailers stock hundreds of new cars.

Meanwhile, Cottone must execute on the brand’s aggressive product rollout while maintaining the brand’s current market momentum.

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