AMAG Group is at the forefront of tackling this issue. A Swiss company, founded 1945, the group covers the automotive distribution value chain, importing wholesale vehicles for sale through their authorized dealer network. With more than 80 own outlets, selling major domestic and commercial brands directly to customers, they are the largest dealer in Switzerland.
Helmut Ruhl, CEO at AMAG Group says the company has to ask itself a stark question:
“Why should AMAG still exist in 10 or 20 years? What kind of products and services do we need to offer to remain relevant in the market? We need to explore new paths, rethink mobility, stay open and curious. Our mission is to become the leading provider of sustainable individual mobility that moves and excites people.”
Olivier Wittmann, Managing Director at AMAG Import says that electric vehicles fold neatly into the existing functions of the business:
“There are three core tasks. First, I think that we have the best product on the market in Switzerland. Secondly, we have to advise the customers. And thirdly, support: we have to give the customer an experience with electric cars. Therefore we have our dealer network launch test drives for 24 hours or more and we give advice on the charging solutions or the range, or questions relative to the technology of the e-cars. And we are also looking into the possibility of offering our own charging solutions.”
Anja Bates, Head of Group HR at AMAG says that attitude is key when it comes to making changes that will be felt through the entire business:
“Our people need to be open minded and entrepreneurial to collaborate with partners and trades in new business areas, for example, in the mobility service sector or the electricity industry. With this mindset change, we will enforce speed in our transition journey.”
It is a transformation that cuts against the culture of the industry. As Martin Everts, Head of Strategic Development at AMAG explains:
“In our very specific industry. AMAG is the first company with clear climate targets: we want to be the fastest when it comes to emission reductions. What began in 2008 with the largest PV plant in the canton of Zurich on the roof of one of our warehouses is now being expanded and accelerated. AMAG plans to rapidly install PV systems on all feasible locations, covering more than 20 percent of our electricity demand with our own PV systems. And we have plans to increase that self supply up to 60 percent.”
AMAG also has ambitious plans to supply customers with local and clean electricity, essential in achieving an ambition of a net zero footprint by 2040. Much of the journey towards this goal has been mapped out by cutting edge research carried out in partnership with ETH Zurich, covering a wide range of topics from intentional behavior change to technical solutions for autonomous driving.
Dino Graf, Head of Group Communications at AMAG says that practical and real-world solutions have come from this partnership:
“For new passenger cars, electric propulsion is the future, but for existing fleets, trucks or even aviation, synthetic fuels can be a viable solution. If we can find a solution here with decarbonized fuel, a lot could be achieved. We want to research together with our partners, how we can move from the laboratory to a sustainable, but at the same time cost effective production.”
Martin Everts says that the industry, not known for sustainability, is changing:
“Cars contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions and we will take responsibility. Keep in mind: we are car dealers. Speed is our passion. And when it comes to emission reductions, we will be the fastest late follower.”
For Helmut Ruhl, a viable future for the business means doing things differently:
“Sustainability is one of our core values. We embrace the responsibility to manage this fundamental change of our business also for the benefit of our six and a half thousand employees and their families, and on ecological sustainability. That’s why we have developed the AMAG climate strategy. Our vision is to become the market leader in individual sustainable mobility here in Switzerland.”
It is a model that could work around the world.