Daily leader from editor-in-chief James Mawson.
Change is coming quickly in transportation as electrification and autonomous vehicles creep from specialist parts of heavy industry on to the roads.
Now, truck manufacturer Volvo has hired Martin Witt as vice-president and head of Volvo Group Venture Capital. He reports to Anna Westerberg, senior vice-president of Volvo Group Connected Solutions and former head of its corporate venturing unit for much of the past six years.
Jason Miles runs a separate corporate venturing unit under the company’s Volvo Financial Services brand in the US. (Volvo had spun off its car production unit to Ford at the end of the 1990s. A decade ago, during the last economic downturn, Ford sold off its Volvo Cars group to China-based Zhejiang Geely for about $1.5bn and it now has a CVC unit under Zaki Fasihuddin, CEO of its Volvo Cars Tech Fund)
Before joining Volvo Group, Witt was managing director at Accenture Strategy based in its Gothenburg, Sweden office. At Volvo Group Venture Capital he will make investments in autonomous driving, connected services and electromobility with an emphasis on Europe and North America.
He will have plenty of ground to cover himself, given the surge of activity by startups such as Plus.ai. In autonomous driving alone there could be a near 50% drop in logistics costs over the next decade.
But it is electrification that could have the most impact in the shorter term for Europe’s big seven truckmakers (the others being DAF, Daimler, Iveco, Man, Renault and Scania), particularly in cities, driven by a lower total cost of ownership and tightening carbon dioxide regulations.
Delivery trucks could be electrified at a fast pace while longer-haul options might require hydrogen or other power sources, and all the while other transport options such as drones could take off, especially in conjunction with 3D printing.
Few incumbents will make the jump to survival in this decade but those that do will require some heroic leaps in strategy and execution to get there if they keep their wits about them.