Last week we reported the Geely and Volvo, which is owned by the Chinese car company, will be jointly developing cars and there was speculation if those cars would be sold in America. Now Bloomberg reports that some of those cars will indeed be exported to the United States. That would achieve the goal of Geely chairman Li Shufu that he set when Geely first showed product at the 2006 NAIAS in Detroit. At the same time, Volvo dealers in the U.S. and the company’s American sales unit have been trying to get more Swedish made Volvos shipped here.
Gui Shengyue, current CEO of Geely, said in an interview last week, “Our acquisition of Volvo enhanced our image and overseas consumers are seeing us as an international company. Our deliveries in U.S. and Europe will be banking on those jointly developed models.”
Li had early said he wanted to keep the two brands separate lest concerns over Chinese quality taint the Volvo brand. Apparently he’s changed his mind and wants some of Volvo’s safety and luxury cachet to boost Geely’s image in the eyes of global consumers.
Geely still plans on becoming China’s biggest car exporter this year with anticipated exports of 180,000 units, up from just over 100,000 last year. Chery is currently the leading exporter with 184,000 units shipped last year.
Chinese automakers have expanded capacity to the point where they will be able to make 40 million cars and light trucks by 2015. With a projected domestic demand of 27 million, those automakers are looking to export. Gui said that Geely hopes to have 60% of its revenue from overseas sales by 2018.
Meanwhile in North America, Volvo dealers and the Swedish automaker’s U.S. sales division spent a year trying to get the home office to change their mind and bring the V60 station wagon to this market. Previously Volvo had announced that they would not be selling the V60 in this country but now that model will go on sale here next January. Tassos Panas, head of marketing and product development at Volvo Cars of North America, has told the Automotive News that he’ll now start lobbying Volvo brass about bringing the V40 five door to America. Station wagons have long been an important part of the Volvo brand in North America and the current Volvo lineup in the United States does not include a proper station wagon, just the XC 60, 70 and 90 CUVs.
“The V40 is a great small vehicle, and we would love to have it here,” Panas said. “It is not currently in our plan but that does not stop me. I am constantly talking about making that a reality.” The V40 would have to be modified to meet U.S. motor vehicle safety standards. The current V40 is based on a platform of Ford’s from whom Geely bought Volvo. The next generation V40 will likely be one of the jointly developed Geely/Volvo products.