Taking over the responsibilities for a region containing some of the most important markets in the middle of a pandemic is not an easy task. However, bringing with him a wealth of experiences, Emmanuel Jupet looks ahead to making his mark, as he is someone who likes to make a difference, as we learnt from him in the conversation. Being responsible for Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines, South Korea, and Mainland China, he shares to us his vision and ambition in the new role as well as the enormous opportunities as he sees in Asia.
Moving from market to market, Emmanuel has seen a lot of differences as well as similarities. When talking about trucks and buses, he shared that the two segments have some key factors in common. The first undoubtable common focus comes before anything else is safety. A double deck bus would carry up to 135 passengers and keep them safe should be at the heart of any deliberation. “At Volvo Group, safety is in our DNA and it is a core value for the Volvo Brand. I would emphasise that it is not just Buses. It is the same for Trucks. It does not matter how many people are sitting inside the vehicle. Even if there is just one driver in a truck, safety is the upmost important commitment from the Volvo Group.” As Volvo is synonymous with safety, this approach hardly comes as a surprise. “And as you know that Safety, Quality and Environmental Care are the core values of the Volvo Group, it remains the same for all the products we offer, Buses, Trucks or other commercial vehicles and in everything that we do.”
Another important aspect for both Buses and Trucks is uptime. “The environment is a Business to Business setting with professional buyers. Uptime is a deciding factor for our customers, both in the Buses and the Trucks segment,” concluded by Emmanuel. Noting that uptime is an important aspect, the question is: what about cost? “Operating cost is for sure on top of the customers’ agenda, and uptime affects operation cost. At Volvo, we fully understand the importance of the operating cost, and we always strive to be the best business partner of our customers. That is exactly why both in the Buses and Trucks segments, we talk about TCO – total cost of ownership,” so as Emmanuel explained. Commercial vehicles has typically a life cycle of 10 - 15 year and if it is a Volvo, it could run up to 20 years. “We strive to be the best business partner of our customers throughout the life cycle of the vehicle, and our relationship with our customers will not stop at the point of handing over the keys.”
Besides the shared common areas in the Buses and Trucks business, Emmanuel does see differences as well. In the bus business, the volume is relatively lower, and typically, tenders dominate the purchasing process. Emmanuel elaborated to us the bus business is very challenging in terms of engineering and manufacturing, for the reason that the products are more tailor-made and requirements are more diverse and more customized, while for him this challenge could also be very exciting especially considering Emmanuel came from a engineering background.
Having lived in several countries before heading the APAC North region, Emmanuel had the privilege to identify ways of transferring knowledge from previous experiences. One concept he is critical about is the notion that a market would be unique. Emmanuel states that, fundamentally, the needs of the industry are mostly identical around the world. “The needs of our customers are very much identical. However, we also need to adjust the approach with local understanding.” For instance, in Europe, the business is greatly driven by the idea of TCO. In Asia, besides TCO, relationships and the initial price of the vehicle may be equally important. He identified “speed” is also an important aspect of doing business in Asia and to tackle this, the solution is to have expertise on the local operation to better understand the culture, the language and the way of running business in the market. As the cultures mix, Volvo is to inject the corporate values, which is one of Emmanuel’s vision. “We want to make sure and provide the best transport solution. It is important for us to deliver what we commit and communicate at the same time to meet the local expectations and requirements.”
Bus Rapid Transport systems (BRT) are a hallmark of the Swedish brand. The benefits of such systems were highlighted in a conference held by Volvo last year in Kuala Lumpur. “Volvo has been a pioneer in this field. It is a sufficient system, but it is also easy to see that the implementation may not be for every city.” Putting things into perspective, medium sized cities may be benefitting the most from BRT. “There are currently BRT projects underway in South East Asia.” The nature of the BRT solution depends on multiple factors and will have tremendous impacts on how people move around. So Emmanuel opines: “Transportation is also based on city development and government policy.”
Hong Kong is making use of mini buses and the system of the red and green buses has been hugely successful in moving commuters. This has not been the first time that Emmanuel is immersed in a market where mini buses play a crucial role. Consequently, he has been confronted with the question why Volvo would not enter into this market as well. One would argue that this would allow the company to cover the entire spectrum of the transportation system. However, as time and time again, the strategy has been to be in the premium, heavy duty segment, there is no ambition to veer off the path the company has taken so far. “We decided that we want to keep a clear focus and that we do not want to be everything for everyone,” he said. As known, Volvo is leading in innovation, and clearly that is the direction that the company has been moving towards.
While the market may not see a Volvo mini bus, the pride of their bus segment is the progress they have made in the sphere of electrification. Emmanuel, with a lot of excitement, said that the “Buses is taking the lead when it comes to electrification.” The electrified drive train has been introduced into buses over 10 years ago in the shape of the hybrids. Fully electric buses have been introduced in 2017. While these have not been widely available in Asia, this is going to change and more and more electric buses are making their way to Asia. “Hong Kong will remain a Diesel territory for a while though”. Hong Kong is a very demanding market. The distance driven daily may not be an issue as such, however, the climate, the passenger capacity and the layout of the city are very unique and requires special consideration, adding on-route charging (opportunity charging) may not be feasible as the space is very limited. The future improvement of battery energy density shall open new opportunities for cities like Hong Kong.
In the context of the current pandemic, the industry was impacted with a drastic and rapid change in demand for transportation. The idea of staff working from home naturally has a huge effect on the public transport industry. What the long-term effect will be after the pandemic is uncertain; however, we know that things will be shaken up a bit. Emmanuel evaluates this critically and shares that the shift from private vehicles to public transport will have a bigger impact. There will always be a need for people to meet in person. Many cities have no more space to add roads to accommodate the increasing numbers of cars driven by individuals, let alone the environmental impact. He himself has decided to ditch the car and to depend on public transport, which in Hong Kong is the benchmark for megacities. “What we need is not more transportation, but smarter ones. At Volvo Buses, we have a vision of the zero city, which means zero accidents, zero noise and zero emission,” concluded by Emmanuel.
Emmanuel Jupet (49), Managing Director, Region APAC North, Volvo Buses Asia Pacific, Volvo Bus Hong Kong Ltd has been with the Volvo Group for 24 years. An engineer by trade, he has made it his mission to make sure that the products he is working with are making a difference to the society.
“I have been fortunate to have been involved in many roles within the Volvo group. In my previous postings I would be responsible for different aspects of both, the truck and bus segments.” Starting out in purchasing, he also gained experience in the engineering, marketing, business development and sales. Parallel to developing his business skills, he also honed interpersonal skills and multi-national culture experiences while working in countries like France, India, China and Sweden before heading to Hong Kong in August 2020.
“Both buses and trucks have important roles to play in the society. To me, that matters. One of the proudest moments in this challenging year is that the Volvo Group was awarded as one of the World’s Best Workplaces 2020.”