Volvo Bus MD Domenico Bondi: ‘The future looks positive’

Volvo Bus MD Domenico Bondi

Domenico Bondi took up the role of Managing Director of Volvo Bus in February. He joins a business in the UK and Ireland that is seeing the start of a technology transition in its offering for bus applications, and which on its coach side is looking towards a rebuild of demand as customers recover from COVID-19 implications.

While Domenico’s name may be a new one to many in the industry, he brings significant transport sector knowledge that extends back almost 30 years. Domenico joined Volvo from Voith Group, having most recently been in the role there of Vice President Mobility for Western Europe. Prior to that, he held the position of Service Director for Bombardier Transport UK.

Domenico is educated to Master of Business Administration level and married with two children. He is passionate about Italy’s national football team the Azzurri, Maserati sports cars, mountain biking and fine wines.  He describes himself as “excited to join Volvo Bus” and says he looks forward to the opportunities and challenges that the market will present in the future.

From a professional point of view, rail is Domenico’s primary background, although at his previous employer he had a direct line into the bus sector. In addition to the obvious one of moving passengers, there is a major crossover between rail- and road-based transport that transfers readily to his role at Volvo, he believes.

BZL is at heart of Volvo work on bus says Domenico Bondi
Domenico Bondi notes that the BZL battery-electric range is at the heart of Volvo’s work on buses; training for staff on the product is ongoing

“I take pride in being customer-focused and energised and I am determined to make difference here,” he continues.

“Building long-lasting connections to foster trust and confidence is a priority, and by doing that I expect to make a significant contribution. Prioritising, goal setting and working with a focus and passion are all very important to me.”

Those principles will be helped by Volvo Bus’s strong existing team, Domenico adds. He does not rule out reinforcing it as the business recovers from unprecedented times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Battery-electric BZL range sits at heart of work on buses

A key part of growth hopes on the bus side of the business sits with the battery-electric BZL range, which was launched last year and which is supported by the Volvo dealer network. Training on that product has begun and it will continue beyond 2022 as the BZL hits the market.

Volvo Bus sees significant scope for success with the BZL. While it already has established relationships with many large fleet operators across the UK, the short- to medium-term priority for Domenico is to foster growth of its reach among new and returning buyers as well.

“BZL is a state-of-the-art product, and it is in line with Volvo’s electromobility and sustainability strategy. That is how we plan to pursue the market – by supporting those buses from the cradle to the grave via the Volvo dealer network in the future.”

He notes that ‘battery as a service’ is a further possibility, where Volvo would look after the battery for the life of the vehicle.

Coaches: Versatile range ‘is a clear strength’

While talk in the bus world revolves around zero emissions, Volvo Group’s diesel range will continue in specific segments for as long as demand justifies it, Domenico advises. He adds the caveat that interest in battery-electric continues to grow quickly.

Volvo 9900 coach for Whitelaws
Volvo’s extensive coach range is an asset, says Domenico Bondi; 2022 will be another challenging year for deliveries but recovery is coming

Where diesel remains front and centre is in the coach market. Volvo Bus’s coach offering in the UK and Ireland has grown in recent years, and the business has a vehicle to suit every application.

The strategy of using a variety of bodybuilders alongside Volvo’s own complete models has proved to be “very successful.”

But while he expects that 2022 will likely be another challenging year in terms of new coach deliveries, there is reason for optimism. “We are seeing some green shoots,” he notes.

Premium brand position for Volvo Bus ‘will pay dividends’

Despite the focus on electric in Volvo’s bus range, arrival of the same technology in its coach line-up doesn’t appear imminent, although Domenico acknowledges that interest in zero-emission coaches will continue to grow in the medium term.

What is clear is that Domenico intends for all the established positives around Volvo Bus to continue under his leadership. While he accepts that coach and bus is a competitive market in the UK, the Volvo approach of positioning itself as a premium brand with premium service will not change going forward, he concludes.