The Executive Interview: Eric Apode, CEO Chang ‘An PSA Automobiles Company (CAPSA)

Eric Apode, CEO of CAPSAWhen a joint venture agreement was signed between PSA and China Chang ‘An Automobile Group (CAPSA) in July 2010, Eric Apode became a management member of the preparatory team.

CAPSA has two plants in Shenzhen, one devoted to engines and the other to producing cars, with a current annual output of 200,000 vehicles. Apode has been working for PSA Peugeot Citroën (PSA) since 1988.

What were the main challenges you faced when working on the joint venture here in China?
First of all I should say that PSA has a very reliable partner in Chang ‘An, and the cooperation between us is very progressive and productive. Personally the main challenge here has been the language. Ideally we’d like to have direct communication between us without the need for translation or interpretation. That’s why I am studying Chinese and my partner is learning English very hard. Secondly we’re improving the merging of cultures and innovation in CAPSA to ensure that each employee, wherever they come from, has the sense of belonging to CAPSA.

With the creation of the PSA China Tech Centre (CTC), you started creating products that are developed specifically for the local market. How important is it for you to focus on this?
Adapting products to the local market is critical, and has been proved to be successful in many cases. China’s market is ever growing and is fast becoming the second largest market for PSA. Our strategy at PSA is to become a global corporation, dedicated to upgrading the Asian market.

Can you tell us a little about CAPSA’s clean vehicle strategy?
We are going to introduce hybrid technology into CAPSA in 2013. The R&D centre is also focussing on new energy vehicle development as well.

What is the significance of the cooperation you have formed with universities here in China?
CAPSA has just embarked on this cooperation with engineering universities. On the one hand these projects are aimed at cultivating qualified engineers on campus, and on the other they are there to encourage collaborations between top universities research and development of products.

What are your goals for the future?
Our partner, Chang ‘An, is currently the fourth largest player in the Chinese automobile industry, and PSA is second largest in the European market, so CAPSA is an alliance between two giants. Our vision for CAPSA is to excel in the global auto industry, this is a vision shared by both myself and my Chinese partner. We aim to make CAPSA the best joint venture in China.