AMAG General Manager Francine Varga

«Many passionately defend electromobility»

Francine Varga, General Manager of the AMAG dealership in Châtelaine GE, explains why she chose to take on a career in the automotive industry, why it is still tough for women in the sector, and how, together with her customers, she is driving the transition to electromobility.


Ms Varga, what does a typical day look like for you?

Francine Varga: As the dealership has over 100 employees and 10 heads of department, my days are always very different and include a lot of general management tasks. I take care of the financial management of the dealership, which includes planning the budget, analysing and monitoring expenditure and revenue, and overseeing our targets. Furthermore, I also work on keeping team spirit high, something that is vital for ensuring that a workplace like this stays running smoothly. However, my top priorities are making sure our customers are happy and that we continue to improve the services we offer.


What feedback have you received from customers about the increasingly important topic of electromobility?

For some of our customers who are already well prepared for electromobility, it has become a lifestyle that they defend with a passion. They are real ambassadors for the topic that we can count on. When we get feedback, it is often customers sharing their experiences with us, but we also get questions about the range the vehicles have and ways to charge them on long journeys.


How difficult do people find it to make the transition?

For some of our customers, the transition was easier than first expected. The installation of home charging stations and solar panels is heavily subsidised by the cantons and municipalities, which comes as a significant advantage for homeowners. Municipalities have also installed a lot of publicly accessible charging stations. However, the transition for those who rent or make long journeys is not always easy. But the transformation is ongoing, technology is developing quickly and all stakeholders, governments, manufacturers and energy providers are working together to overcome the last remaining obstacles.


Do female customers have different requirements in this area compared to male customers?

I can’t see any real difference there. At most there is the difference that some men make it clear that they want to stick with good old fashioned combustion engines...


What general advice do you give to customers regarding electromobility?

That they should be well informed and prepared, and they should analyse their lifestyle and know what charging options are available to them at home and at work. Our trained employees help our customers to make the right choice for them, but a hybrid model is the ideal solution for anyone who only drives short distances in the city but regularly travels using their car at the weekend. Changing to a fully electric vehicle requires thorough preparation, having a fully environmentally oriented mindset, and adopting a new way of travelling.


For some of our customers, the transition was easier than first expected.

Francine Varga, General Manager of the AMAG dealership in Châtelaine



What electric models are your bestsellers at the dealership?

For hybrids, it’s the AUDI Q5. When it comes to fully electric vehicles, the bestsellers are the AUDI Q4 e-tron and the AUDI Q8 e-tron, which just came on the market in February this year. The CUPRA BORN is a small electric vehicle that has been well received.


What role does electromobility play in your life personally?

Electromobility meets my current expectations as it is facilitating the transition to a greener, more sustainable economy. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions, improves air quality, decreases noise pollution, and also, above all, is driving a real energy transition at a fast pace. An example of this is the creation of a management system for various natural energy sources such as solar energy with the installation of photovoltaic systems. The AMAG Group is aiming to become the leading provider of sustainable individual mobility options and has already begun taking decisive steps to claim its place as a Swiss solar energy pioneer, such as with its acquisition of the company Helion.


Which model do you drive?

As I regularly change vehicle, I have been fortunate enough to drive various different hybrids and electric models. At the moment, like most of our sales employees, I drive an AUDI Q4 e-tron. It looks good and is fun to drive!


What does your car mean to you?

For me, a car has always been a symbol of freedom, travel, discoveries, time to think, and somewhere to sing loudly. From a career perspective, a car represents a need and a shared pleasure that connects us with others, a joy to purchase, and a service for the customer when they need maintenance and servicing. I have a real passion for this ever-evolving dynamic!


Was your path into the automotive industry clear from a young age?

After I did some work placements in different industries, including banking, insurance and trusteeship, it was the one I did in a car dealership that really met my expectations – whether that was in terms of the dynamic, the variety of tasks, the customer service and the colleagues. The automotive industry was the best choice and enabled me to have the most varied career, taking me from being a management assistant to a customer service employee, bookkeeper, IT trainer, operations and finance director all the way to general manager.


Did your gender ever play a role? The industry is still male dominated.

Being a woman in the automotive industry, and especially one in a leadership position, was and still is extremely difficult. Neither customers nor employees expect us to be in this role. But more than just coming from this environment, this stems from Swiss culture, where women were only given the right to vote in 1971. That’s almost 50 years later than most western countries. Even today, only 24% of leadership positions are occupied by women. I daren’t even go into what that percentage is at car dealerships. But this trend is improving in the industry. The AMAG Group has set itself ambitious goals, including developing the women@amag project.


The AMAG Group has launched the women's network women@AMAG. women@AMAG organises hybrid networking events two to three times a year in German- and French-speaking Switzerland on specific topics such as part-time work, appearance and negotiation in a business context, or the current status of the diversity roadmap. The aim of the network is to promote networking and exchange among women within the AMAG Group.

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