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China’s Economic Crisis Working to Volvo’s Advantage

Swedish maker gets more control from Chinese parent.

by on Aug.24, 2015

A Volvo S60L sedan rolling down the assembly line at the maker's plant in Chengdu, China.

The financial turmoil in China is actually working to the advantage of Volvo Cars. The Swedish automaker, now owned by China’s Geely, is getting more control of key assets, such as its factory in Chengdu, as part of a deal valued at $356 million.

Volvo Cars executives said the decision to take control of its three joint venture operations in China will accurately reflect its growing presence in the Chinese  market . It also fixes the values of the assets in case of a merger or if they are put up as collateral for a major loan in the future, observers said.

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The downside is that Volvo is being hammered, like the rest of the auto industry, by the worst slowdown in the Chinese automotive market in two decades. The downturn could push Volvo to expand plans to export cars from China to the U.S. and other established markets.


Volvo Will Build Top-Range S90 Sedan in China

Swedish automaker turning to China as export manufacturing base.

by on Nov.14, 2014

A current Volvo XC90 rolls down the assembly line at the maker's plant in Daqing, China.

The millennium had barely turned before the first Chinese automaker showed up at the Detroit Auto Show promising to begin exports to the U.S. “in a couple years.” A decade later, however, and American motorists are still waiting.

Ironically, it could take a Swedish automaker to finally make that vision come true. Well, make that a Swedish carmaker with a Chinese parent.

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Volvo has already indicated it may import a small number of stretched S60 sedans from its Guangzhou plant to the U.S. Now, however, the maker has confirmed that its planned flagship sedan will be produced at another facility in Daqing for export around the world.


Volvo Set for Downsized Powertrain Revolution

Swedish maker switches to 4-cylinders; will add 3-cylinder and a pair of Plug-ins.

by on Aug.27, 2014

Volvo has high hopes for the 400-horsepower T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain it will offer on the XC90.

The all-new XC90 SUV that made its debut this week marks the beginning of a major shift in powertrain strategy by Volvo Cars, the Swedish automaker abandoning V-6 and V-8 power in favor of more advanced 4-cylinder gas, diesel and hybrid technology.

But Volvo is set to reach even further, company officials reveal, in its bid to balance performance and fuel economy. It also is developing a new line of 3-cylinder engines, and will soon add not just one but two different plug-in hybrid powertrains to its line-up.

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“A few years ago, I would have said this was a risky strategy,” admitted Lex Kerssemakers, the maker’s global product strategy chief, but he added he is “confident” about the approach as buyers around the world migrate to smaller, more fuel-efficient engines even in big SUVs and crossovers like the 2016 Volvo XC90.


Volvo Unveils New XC90; Bets its Future on Redesign

Volvo to offer plug-in hybrid, new safety and connectivity features.

by on Aug.26, 2014

The new Volvo XC90 shown with the Swedish maker's President & CEO Hakan Samuelsson.

With today’s unveiling of an all-new XC90, Volvo Cars is giving the world a good look at the many changes that will likely determine the future success of the Swedish automaker.

While echoing the basic shape of the old Volvo XC90, the new ute adopts new, and more luxurious proportions, as well as a more sophisticated interior. But many of the most significant changes aren’t as readily apparent. They include an all-new platform, or architecture, that will serve as the foundation of many future Volvo products.

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The new ute, due to market next April, also gets a sophisticated, tablet-style touchscreen display to control everything from its infotainment system to its climate control. The 2016 Volvo XC90 also will see the maker introduce a wide arrange of new Drive-E powertrains, including Volvo’s new plug-in hybrid system designed to deliver both performance and fuel economy, depending on what mode it’s operating in.


Volvo Claims Next XC90 Will Be “World’s Most Powerful and Cleanest SUV”

Line-up will include 400-hp plug-in and 56 mpg turbodiesel.

by on Jul.08, 2014

The new Volvo XC90 T8 will be powered by a new plug-in hybrid I-4 turning out 400-hp.

With plans to completely redefine its line-up, top to bottom, Volvo is offering up new details on the three powertrain packages it will be offering in the next-generation XC90, the Swedish maker boasting that they will make it “the world’s most powerful and cleanest SUV.”

While that claim will be open to challenge, the new XC90 will, at one extreme, offer a dual supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four making a solid 400 horsepower, while at the other extreme it promises a combined fuel economy of 56 mpg from a new turbodiesel.

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“There are no compromises when you drive an all-new XC90,” said Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development of Volvo Car Group. “In the past you could either have power or low CO2 emissions. But with the all-new XC90 you can have both.”


Volvo’s Radical New Powertrain Line-up Debuts

Maker dropping old Ford engines by 2015.

by on Jan.24, 2014

The 2015 Volvo V60 will debut the new Drive-E engines, as will the new S60 and XC60 models.

Hoping to establish itself as a significant player in the global luxury car market, Volvo is making an $11 billion investment in new products and the plants to build them – an aggressive and much-needed plan that puts a particular premium on an all-new line-up of advanced powertrains that Volvo promises will deliver both segment-leading mileage and world-class performance.

The first of the maker’s models equipped with the new Drive-E engine family are just beginning to roll into U.S. showrooms this month – and they mark the beginning of the end of the relationship between the Swedish-based company and Ford Motor Co. that began when the Detroit maker purchased Volvo Cars in 1999.

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But the powertrain program isn’t without its risks, Volvo officials acknowledge. Among other things, it will mean convincing upscale buyers who traditional equate displacement with desirability that a high-tech 4-cylinder engine can be as good, or better, than the six- and eight-cylinder powertrains that traditionally dominate the luxury market.

The goal is to create a family of “smaller, more intelligent engines that will turn the V -8 engine into a dinosaur,” proclaims Derek Crabb Volvo’s vice president of powertrain engineering.


Volvo Teases New Concept C

Show car slated for Frankfurt reveal.

by on Aug.26, 2013

Volvo video gives a quick glimpse of new Concept C.

Volvo has been making plenty of promises for the future, the Swedish maker hinting at a variety of new products and a major transformation of its powertrain line-up to start rolling out over the next few years.

We’re likely to get a good look at what it has in mind during the Frankfurt Motor Show next month – and if a new teaser video released on is any indication, the Volvo Concept C will be anything but the plain “vanilla,” wagons that prior generations had grown used to.

What a Concept!

True, the now Chinese-owned maker has been steadily moving away from its boxy design roots in recent years, and the Volvo Concept You shown at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show offered a clear glimpse of where things are going. But if the snippets seen in this brief teaser are any indication, the Volvo design language is evolving rather rapidly.


Volvo Accelerating Plans for China

When is a Swedish carmaker not a Swedish carmaker?

by on Apr.30, 2012

The Volvo Concept You hints at the direction the maker plans to take, including its shift to small 4-cylinder and battery-based powertrains.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to call Volvo a Swedish car company.  These days, most of its top management – headed by CEO Stefan Jacoby, a former Volkswagen executive – is German and it is now owned by China’s big Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

Further confusing things, Volkswagen may soon have as much or more production capacity in China as it does in Europe, Jacoby confided in during a conversation at the Beijing Motor Show.

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Work is already underway to erect Volvo’s first Chinese assembly plant and, he confirmed, everything is in place to add a second Chinese factory.  But now, he revealed, “We are considerating a powertrain plant in the greater Beijing region” that would likely meet most or all the engine and transmission needs for both those assembly lines.


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.


First Look: Volvo Concept You

Square and boxy? Not.

by on Sep.13, 2011

Volvo's Concept You will help define the future design language for the automaker -- and should become its next flagship sedan.

Remember when Volvo had a simple design formula: make them square and boxy? Well, not anymore.  The maker has been steadily transforming its visual image as it rolls out a series of new models like the S60 R-Design and, at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the Concept You.

As the name implies, the big Volvo on display at the Frankfurt Messe is a prototype, but one that CEO Stefan Jacoby says is a “glimpse of the future of the Volvo company.”

There’s clearly been a lot going on at Volvo of late.  The maker is just celebrating its first year since being sold by Ford Motor Co. to the ambitious Chinese holding company that also produces China’s domestic Geely brand.

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With its parent’s support, Jacoby has outlined an aggressive agenda which calls for a huge growth spurt – to 800,000 vehicles annually, which would put it in the big leagues with luxury marques like Lexus, BMW or Audi. And the elegant Concept You underscores Jacoby’s desire to take Volvo up-market in the process.