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Volvo’s Chinese Fire Drill

New owner Geely hopes to ignite Volvo sales around the world.

by on Jun.21, 2013

Workers assembling a pilot S60L sedan at the new Volvo plant in Chengdu.

The assembly line creeps along at a glacial pace.  For the next few months, the workers at the sprawling plant on the outskirts of the Sichuanese capital of Chengdu will be carefully trained before the first cars actually roll into Chinese showrooms.

But eventually, if all goes according to plan, the factory will be running at a frantic rate.  Long little more than an after-thought in the global luxury market, Volvo Cars has ambitions to challenge more established brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

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At least, that’s the goal set by Geely which purchased the Swedish maker from Ford Motor Co. three years ago.  The ambitious Chinese conglomerate plans to invest at least $6 billion to rebuild Volvo, completely updating its product line-up and adding new plants to produce them, starting with the factory in Chengdu and another in China’s Northeast industrial belt.


Geely Investing $11 Bil in Volvo

Plans to rapidly expand Swedish maker’s presence in China.

by on Apr.09, 2012

Geely Chairman Li Shufu and Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby.

Volvo is about to get a helping hand – a big one – from its Chinese parent, Geely Automobile Holdings, which plans to pump $11 billion into the Swedish maker.

According to a report in Wirtschafts Woche, the investment is intended to increase Volvo’s presence in the growing Chinese market.  Among other things, Geely wants to increase Volvo’s R&D, introduce new technologies and build a new engine plant.  Volvo is planning to migrate to a 4-cylinder-only powertrain strategy in the coming years.

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“We want to revive Volvo and give the brand its strength back,” Geely Chairman Li Shufu told the German weekly.

Exactly where the money will come from is a matter of debate.  While Chairman Li made it sound like Geely will be raising the capital, Volvo Per-Ake Froberg told the Reuters news service that the Swedish maker will have to come up with the capital.


Li Shufu to Become Chairman of the Board at Volvo

Hans-Olov Olsson Named Vice-Chairman in peace offering.

by on Jul.15, 2010

"We have made significant progress in assembling the team that will develop Volvo Cars under Geely's ownership."

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., Ltd. today announced Li Shufu, its Chairman, will become Chairman of the Board at Volvo Car Corporation upon its acquisition of Volvo from Ford Motor Company.

Geely also named Hans-Olov Olsson as Vice-Chairman at Volvo Cars. Olsson is a former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Swedish automaker. Olsson was an adviser to Geely on the transaction.

How long the 68-year old Olsson will stay in the newly created position is unknown.

Nevertheless, the move is clearly an attempt to assure Swedish doubts about the sale, and ensure a smooth transition from Ford ownership when the deal closes during the third quarter of 2010. Ford will not retain any ownership in the new Chinese company.

“We have made significant progress in assembling the team that will develop Volvo Cars under Geely’s ownership. Today’s board appointments underline my personal commitment to this famous company,” Li Shufu said.

While the difference between U.S. cultural attitudes of Ford management and Swedish attitudes were significant, it is nowhere near as vast as the differences between the Chinese “middle kingdom” and “Konungariket Sverige.” Whether the Chinese can manage to make Volvo a growing and profitable global car company remains to be seen, and is the subject of great debates among industry observers.


For the moment, Volvo production in Gothenburg, Sweden and Ghent, Belgium is secure. It remains to be demonstrated that Geely can successfully build Volvo’s in China to Volvo’s quality and safety standards.