Who Is Volvo’s New CEO, Jim Rowan?

It’s no surprise that Volvo has planned to gear its future to be all-electric, but the way the brand hopes to accomplish it is intriguing. The Concept Recharge design is basically a preview of what’s to come with other EV models. A new CEO, Jim Rowan, was brought on board to ensure Volvo stays on track with its goal timelines. Will he keep the brand moving toward a successful future?

Volvo’s future plans for vehicle electrification

Many automakers have pledged to switch from making vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs) to electric-only powertrains. Volvo plans to move in this same direction, and the brand hopes to get there by 2030

If the company’s plans go as expected, Volvo hopes to have at least 50% of its sales worldwide come from its EVs. So far, the brand has two electric cars to choose from: the C40 Recharge and the XC40 Recharge.

In the future, the brand wants to phase out gas-powered cars in its lineup, including its hybrids. Volvo also wants to move into an online-only sales structure.

Volvo has taken strides to ensure a prosperous future for the brand. One of the most recent ones was the initial public offering (IPO) the company announced in October 2021, according to Motor Authority

Where Volvo’s CEO Jim Rowan fits into the picture

Volvo CEO Jim Rowan presenting a trophy to Linn Grant during the Volvo Scandinavian Mixed in Halmstad, Sweden
Volvo CEO Jim Rowan | Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Jim Rowan was born in Scotland in 1965. He began his engineering career in college when he got his Master’s in Mechanical & Production Engineering and Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Glasgow Caledonian University and Glasgow School of Technology. According to Automotive News Europe, he also got his Master’s in Business at Northumbria University in Northern England.

His leadership path began with Flextronics, where he was Vice President of Operations. He continued in that position until leaving in 2005. From 2008-2012 he worked as a Chief Operating Officer at Research in Motion, a BlackBerry maker. 

Rowan then began working at Dyson as a CEO in 2012. While there, he helped develop the brand’s first electric vehicle, which was planned to be an SUV. However, cost estimations on the project proved too much for Dyson, who decided to ditch the plans altogether.

Rowan’s title changed to President and CEO of the company in 2017 and continued until 2020. Now, as of March 2022, we see him at Volvo as the company’s new CEO, replacing Hakan Samuelsson, who stepped down to be chairman at Polestar instead.

What are Jim Rowan’s thoughts on the brand’s future?

In an interview with Automotive News, Jim Rowan was asked if he felt Volvo could reach its electric-only goal by 2030. He was confident that the brand could, saying, “… We set ourselves an ambitious goal and when you do this, you are saying there are no ifs, ands or buts. That is the direction of travel. That means every hire that we make, every investment decision that we make, every design choice for our cars that we make are geared toward achieving that strategy.” 

When asked about his thoughts on the effects of the semiconductor chip shortages in the industry, Rowan agreed there was definitely turbulence to overcome. Still, it was more than just the chip shortages. He explained, “… but also the pandemic continuing to cause lockdowns in places such as China, the awful situation in the Ukraine and rising inflation puts pressure on consumer confidence.”

Rowan is pretty optimistic that the all-electric goal can be met by the end of the decade in the U.S., despite other automakers feeling the transition will likely be much slower. He uses Tesla as an example. If that brand could do it, why can’t Volvo do the same? 

Volvo wants to help the environment by eliminating gas-powered vehicles from its lineup, and the company wants to ensure it gets done by 2030. With the hiring of Jim Rowan, the new Volvo CEO, with a background in Dyson products, it should meet its goals if not come close. 

RELATED: Volvo Is Raising $2.9 Billion to Accelerate Their Electric Car Agenda