Scania back in Ukraine: “Shot with Kalashnikovs through the walls”
Author: Karin Olander, Dagens industri
When the Russians were driven out of Kyiv, they mined Scania’s main plant. The walls were torn apart. But the business is up and running again and recently Scania opened another workshop on the other side of town.
"The need for transport is great," says Håkan Jyde, Scania’s Ukraine manager.
All staff were gone when the Russian invasion force entered Scania’s headquarters, spare parts warehouse and workshop in the Butja area, the suburb of Kyiv, which has become notorious for Russian brutality and many civilian casualties.
“Our facility was hardly a threat, but Kalashnikovs were shot through the walls and the Russians cleared and destroyed. But they took nothing from the spare parts warehouse. On the other hand, leftover alcohol from the New Year celebrations and some laptops”, says Håkan Jyde.
Both the farm and the building were mined when the Russians were forced to retreat.
“Apparently they wanted to blow us up when we got back. Fortunately, we got good help with taking care of it”, says Håkan Jyde who has worked for Scania for 25 years, of which almost ten years in Russia and the last five years in Ukraine.
Of Scania’s twelve workshops, ten are now open.
“It is possible to repair trucks even if there are bullet holes in the walls,” says Håkan Jyde.
Most of the 180 employees are back at work.
“We have about 15 mechanics who are in the army or the Home Guard and participate in the battles. They are still employed and we hope, of course, that they will return. What we know now is all but one are unharmed. He is missing and may be in a Russian concentration camp”, says Håkan Jyde.
Together with the chief financial officer, Håkan Jyde went to the Latvian capital Riga just before the outbreak of war, where he is still working in exile. Two weeks ago, he returned to Kyiv and saw his destroyed office.
Together with Sweden’s Ukrainian Ambassador Tobias Thyberg, he inaugurated a brand new workshop near Brovary on the west side of the river Dnipro.
“It was already underway before the war and now with a shortage of fuel, it is even more important that we are closer to the customers. We also want to show that we believe in the future of Ukraine. The people’s resilience is amazing. Putin’s idea of wiping out Ukraine has had the opposite effect. The Ukrainians are more united than ever,” says Håkan Jyde.
This week he’s going back again.
“The war is going on mainly in eastern Ukraine. The Russians control only 20 percent of the nation. In the rest of the country, it is important that life is allowed to continue. The occupying power disrupts fuel distribution and shatters food supply chains. There we play a major role in securing transport and logistics. I also feel that I need to be in place with some regularity for everything to work”, says Håkan Jyde.
What has happened to the prices?
“We have had to raise prices everywhere because the costs for raw materials and transport have increased,” he says.
In a normal year, Scania sells 400-500 trucks in Ukraine and is the largest brand alongside MAN, which is also owned by Traton. After the invasion, business stopped for a month or so, but now demand is high.
“There is a shortage of trucks worldwide due to the difficulties in obtaining components, but we prioritize Ukraine. We expect to sell around 400 trucks this year, so slightly fewer than before and the service part is around 75 percent of last year,” he says.
Scania’s trucks are connected and it is possible to follow their activity.
“The utilization rate is increasing, that is a good sign. You have driven more in the last two months than before. In some sectors such as food and fuel, it is back at the same levels as before the war. When it is not possible to get agricultural products out by sea, they try truck transports,” says Håkan Jyde.
How is the mood among the employees?
“It is a difficult situation for many. Especially those who have family and small children that they have not seen in several months. But at the same time, it is good that they have a job to go to”.
Scania has actively helped evacuate the employees’ family members.
“They have been received by Scania employees, primarily in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but some have also moved to Sweden. 130 family members have been evacuated in this way. Some have now started to return”, he says.
Although ground fighting is now taking place mainly in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, various cities are being subjected to rocket fire, including Kyiv.
“Of course, it is very unpleasant with the terrorist bombings that have the purpose that no Ukrainian should feel safe.”
What do you think about the future?
“Hopefully Ukraine will get a supply of weapons and be able to retake its territory. Ukraine has taken a bullet for the whole free world and it is starting to sink in with more people. The country must win this war”, says Håkan Jyde.
Scania has been in Ukraine since 1993 when a representative office opened. In 1998, the Ukrainian company was formed.
“I see a bright future for Ukraine when this is over. It must be integrated into the EU and I believe that there will be strong international support for participating in the reconstruction of everything that has been destroyed. We also want to contribute there,” says Håkan Jyde.
SCANIA AND UKRAINE
- In place since 1993.
- 12 workshops, half of which are self-run and the rest private dealers.
- About 180 employees.
- Scania’s market share for heavy trucks of European origin is about 25 percent.