At Volvo Car Corporation, an all-women team is developing a concept car that goes under the internal working name of Your Concept Car. The finished product will be revealed 2004.
The idea of creating a car where women decide about engineering and design was initiated by a number of female employees at Volvo Cars. Last year, the concept and pre-sketches were presented to President and CEO Hans-Olov Olsson and the executive management team. They liked it.
Just before the end of the year, the project was given the go-ahead and work on the concept car could begin. "Like everyone at Volvo Cars, we naturally aim our car at customers who demand premium products. Still, we believe that women and men prioritise differently. This is why all the decisions on this car are being made by women," explains Eva-Lisa Andersson at the Product Development department.
"It’s been said that if you meet women’s expectations, you often exceed the expectations of men. That’s why we targeted our solutions to appeal to both genders," says Tatiana Butovitsch Temm of the Public Affairs department.
The emerging concept car is a concrete example of change management within the company. It represents a new way of thinking and different priorities. It also lends high visibility to the number of competent women in the company.
"We have gathered skills and ideas from hundreds of women within Volvo and enjoy their strong support. Virtually everyone – both men and women – shows great interest in the concept car," says Elna Holmberg at Chassis Development.
However, the car industry is traditionally a male environment. Crossing old barriers is not always easy.
"Of course we encounter obstacles," explains Camilla Palmertz of the Concept Development department. "There are always some people who find it difficult to think along new lines. But that’s part of change management."
President and CEO Hans-Olov Olsson is deeply interested in the project:
"This project is important to Volvo Cars for a variety of reasons. It thinks along new lines and maintains a sharp focus on customer needs. We see it as a way to reach new customer segments. What’s more, it demonstrates the breadth and depth of women’s expertise in this company."
"Of course we’re not doing anything that men couldn’t do – we’re all professionals in the car industry," says Maria Widell Christiansen of the Design department.
What the new concept car will look like, along with new features and technology, are well-guarded secrets until next year.