By on May 11, 2015

155828_Pre_production_of_the_all_new_Volvo_XC90_in_Torslanda

It’s official: Volvo has chosen South Carolina as the home of its first factory in the United States.

The factory will built north of Charleston in Berkeley County, with construction set to begin this fall. Production is expected to begin in 2018, and up to 100,000 units per year are projected to leave South Carolina once operations commence.

Volvo chose Berkeley County due to ease of international-port access, well-trained labor, experience in high-tech manufacturing, and an environment conducive toward investment. The new location will employ up to 2,000 within the next 10 years, and 4,000 over the long term. The first 2,000 factory jobs are also forecasted to bring up to 8,000 total new jobs, with the plant itself generating $4.8 billion to the economy annually in exchange for a $500-million investment by the automaker.

As for what will be built in Volvo’s new plant, speculation points to the S60, XC60 and XC90, the first two the automaker’s most popular models in the U.S. No official word was given at this time.

[Photo credit: Volvo]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

65 Comments on “Volvo Selects South Carolina For First-Ever US Factory...”


  • avatar
    SCfanboy

    Another reason for SC: tax incentives

    • 0 avatar
      Sjalabais

      put your tuxedo on and say with me:

      “…and an environment conducive toward investment”

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      The incentives that South Carolina used to get the BMW factory turned out to be a very good investment; not only does BMW directly employ about 5000 people but the number of people employed by suppliers and vendors is at least 4x that number. It has been a huge catalyst for lots of high tech manufacturing along the I-85 corridor.

      Boeing and Daimler are also expanding in the North Charleston area. If tax incentives are helping to lure all of these new jobs it seems to be money well spent.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Once again NC gets left out in the cold.damn

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      I’ve heard from someone in this line of work that NC gets turned down in favor of other states, and that it’s not much of a priority with the current legislature.

      Here’s what happened with new Toyota’s HQ: http://www.dallasnews.com/business/headlines/20140901-north-carolina-offered-100m-for-toyota-headquarters-twice-texas-bid.ece

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        The Plano, TX location offered a better geographic compromise with direct flights from the huge DFW airport and good workday overlap with the different time zones where Toyota does business in the US. The actual Toyota headquarters site has streets and infrastructure built to support the JC Penney headquarters across the street, but with enough land to add a small test track. Revised plans have parking for 7000 cars.

        http://www.wfaa.com/story/news/local/collin-county/2015/04/21/latest-plans-for-toyota-in-plano-show-bigger-building-test-track/26110283/

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Do they need more capacity to build all these cars people aren’t buying? I really think they’re banking on the new XC90 saving their brand. Lord knows not much else of what they have is desirable as a new car.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      That’s what I was wondering, too. Are they planning on exporting these cars? I’d be surprised if they can sell that many here.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Here we go.

        -Volvo had 465,866 cars sold worldwide in 2014.

        -Total US retail sales in 2014 amounted to 56,371 cars, with the best-selling models the Volvo S60 and the XC60.

        So no, not even close!

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Geely didn’t buy Volvo with the intention of not increasing sales. By a lot.

          Whether it can actually succeed at this is another matter.

          This is similar to the Hyundai-Kia approach: Build the US capacity, then go find the customers. Volvo doesn’t really have much choice in the matter if it’s serious about becoming a contender again.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I can see that approach for H-K as quality-made discount vehicles, which are attainable for many people.

            But Volvo is not an H-K or Hon/Toyo competitor, not mass-market, not cheap, and not as reliable.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            As I noted, Geely doesn’t have much choice. If Volvo doesn’t grow, then it will die.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            To do that, they have to go up against Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus, and to a lesser extent, Acura and Infiniti. I don’t envy them, especially with the limited amount of brand capital that Volvo has in the U. S.. Back in the 80’s, it was a Yuppie favorite, but I think at this point most buyers overlook Volvo.

            If they have to depend on the U. S. market for survival, I can see them going the way of Saab within the next 10 years.

          • 0 avatar
            Richard Chen

            It doesn’t help that Volvos were comparatively large in the 1980’s, but not today.

            The ‘rents got a 740 which was larger than the 2nd gen Accord Sedan. Now, the Corolla has more interior volume than a S60.

          • 0 avatar
            George B

            The problem, at least in the US, is that the market doesn’t support near-luxury anymore. Customers either aspire to buy a “real” luxury brand car or they buy a well equipped mass market brand. Lincoln and Acura can sort of limp along because they can leverage Ford and Honda engineering for high volume vehicles. Lexus has some brand-specific platforms, but they get to use the Toyota parts bin plus they can convince lots of customers to buy the Toyota FWD-based RX and ES. Volvo needs sales volume and/or high profit margins to be able to pay for new product development.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “To do that, they have to go up against Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus, and to a lesser extent, Acura and Infiniti.”

            Volvo is purposely avoiding the top end of the market. (Or at least the Swedish CEO says that it is — the Chinese overlords apparently have other ideas, yet for whatever reason, their Swedish manager seems to be winning the argument.)

            It seems that the strategy is to spend less on platform and drivetrain development, and churn out body styles that stay notched below the S-class/7-series/A8 part of the market. They figure that they can make up for the lower volume by having lower R&D costs. (Given how much it costs to develop things, this may be less of a strategy than it is the default approach that works within the budget.)

            My guess is that Volvo will attempt to be America’s family-defending safety-conscious crossover maker. That’s not a horrible plan — unlike the sedan market that is clearly in German hands, the crossovers are still somewhat up for grabs.

            I would guess that this is also meant to pave the way for lower-level, higher volume cars. Whether they’ll branded as Geely, Volvo or something else, I don’t know.

            “The problem, at least in the US, is that the market doesn’t support near-luxury anymore.”

            Yes, that is a major problem. That’s one reason why I suspect that a move down market that can amortize costs will be part of the plan. This won’t be easy.

    • 0 avatar
      tremorcontrol

      ..because car designs never change, right? What they’ve got right now is what they’ll have until they bite the dust. Got it.

      I think the XC90 design language will look great on the other models. Let’s hope they have enough cash to see that through. They might become interesting to shoppers after people get tired of Audi.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Lol, take it easy. Volvo has never and will never have German brand prestige, and they want equal money (or a little more if you load it up) to what Audi charges.

        And their financial situation means they only get a generation and a partial bumper refresh for every two generations at Audi.

        Oh, and you’ll be spending German-style money and time on maintenance as well, with a smaller dealer network. So enjoy that as well.

        Oh, and now it’s China-owned, so certainly that will help brand perception. :)

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          The new XC90 is the first of the non-Ford cars. Volvo has had a bad run for the past few years because Ford left them with nothing on deck.

          It will be interesting to see what they come up with. They could set the world on fire, like Tata did with Land Rover, or they could bomb, like Tata did with Jaguar. One thing’s fore sure, they won’t stand still; their new powertrain tech is cutting-edge, that’s a big change for a company that was known for weak, unrefined and inefficient engines.

        • 0 avatar
          Sjalabais

          I’m not sure your overconfident posts warrant replies, really, but read your own words again. So now I wonder if I can borrow your crystal ball or if I am to doubt your amazing powers regarding future events?

          Volvo has reached a level of prestige very close to the Germans in Europe, and the new XC90 has drawn massive attention. The pricey first limited edition model was sold out online quickly. The S/V60 and XC60 are among Europe’s most reliable cars, with near zero issues regarding metal works, paint and rust among other things.

          The numbers you quote for Volvo in the US are a low point, as you are well aware of as a constant reader at TTAC. This is a true investment into a future the leader’s at Volvo believe to be bright. I assume they have good reason to believe that, but I have no way to be certain.

          So shouldn’t you.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The numbers I quote for Volvo are the most recently completed year of sales. You can determine that as a “low point” if you like, but I just call it “current.”

            “The S/V60 and XC60 are among Europe’s most reliable cars, with near zero issues regarding metal works, paint and rust among other things.”

            I never said they had these issues, but I expect any modern car NOT to have metal, paint, and rust issues. Nor has the XC60 been out long enough to suffer these issues which you selected in your attempt to narrow scope. How do they fare on the US side in engine/powertrain and electronics? We both know that Europe has a higher tolerance for repair than the US, so again your cited scope is off.

            If they’re so close to the Germans and have such prestige, why do they have such low sales, and are at a low point, by your own admission?

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          That’s not entirely true. If you look at Volvo and Audi’s lineups until the late ’80s, Volvos actually tended to be larger and more expensive. All Audi had to sell here in the mid ’70s was the Fox, which was just a VW Dasher with some circles on the grill. The 4000S was pretty austere, and the 5000S undercut most of its mid-sized import competition in price. Meanwhile, Volvo’s 6 cylinder and turbocharged models were all over expensive neighborhoods.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            That’s fair enough. If we’re considering pre-1990, I will agree with your assessment CJin.

        • 0 avatar
          Sjalabais

          Boy, I’m trying to woden your scope a little. You’re like an insight-repellent…

          Current vs trends: A year is never isolated from other years. Time moves on, nobody stops that. Look at historic numbers for Volvo and how core products like the XC60 and XC90 fare now – that’s one way to find a basis for decision-making.

          Expectation vs reality: The stellar performance in the category gets mentioned in comparison to other products. “Modern car” or not, there will always be issues. They are also doing well in the categories you mentioned. The V50 is among Europe’s most reliable cars, spare the PSA diesel in the DRIVe model. In the US, mostly high-powered versions like the T5 were sold, and they do have some issues.

          US vs rest of the world: Volvo is doing very well, that’s the point. Just not in the US, were some odd decisions have been made (no wagons sold for a while), but improvements seem to be on the horizon.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Chinese tweed jacket, pipe smoking, mechanical/chemical/bio engineering professors at U.S. colleges all pine for Volvos.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      This is great! But, just to be safe, I’d shape the thing like a football stadium so they can quickly reconfigure and possibly draw the Panthers or some other NFL team there just in case, you know, things don’t work out. Not that I think that would ever happen of course!!

    • 0 avatar
      Thatkat09

      They are not going to be selling every Volvo built in SC to American consumers.

      “Volvo chose Berkeley County due to ease of international-port access”

      Sales are strong for Volvo worldwide, if you look globally its not a surprise they need another factory.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @CoreyDL,
      Volvo is a transplant and using the U.S. Factory as a base for exports

    • 0 avatar
      Tostik

      The new XC90 is just starting to arrive in US dealerships, and there are already over 30,000 pre-orders. Ordered, sight unseen. If you want one, you’ll have to wait at least 6 mos. Volvo has been taken aback by this number, and since the XC90 is Volvo’s “American car” (over 40% of the old model was sold in the US),this was probably the reason for the decision to build a factory here.

      And XC60 sales are starting to explode in the US, up 53% year-to-date in 2015, so far. Why? They put the new Drive-E engine on the old XC60, (and that with the old platform, therefore FWD only). One can only imagine what the new XC60 with the new platform, Drive-E, and AWD will sell.

    • 0 avatar
      Tostik

      The new XC90 is just arriving in US dealerships. It already has 30,000 sight-unseen pre-orders. Volvo has been taken aback by this number. And XC60 sales are up 53% year-to-date just because they put a new Drive-E engine on it. The XC60 is on the old architecture, therefore the Drive-e engine can only be FWD. I can only imagine how high XC60 sales will go when it gets the new architecture, Drive-E engine, and AWD.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    Chinese auto manufacturer sets up shop in SC. I bet you won’t see that on any headlines in SC.

    Hope it pans out better than Carbon Motors or Proterra. The latter I bet will go belly up soon.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Hunter Thompson once made an analogy to a farmer with terminal cancer borrowing against next year’s crop.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    For nearly 40 years Volvo assembled cars in Nova Scotia (Canada). From Wikipedia:
    ” The Volvo Halifax Assembly Plant located in Halifax, Nova Scotia was opened on 11 June 1963 by Prince Bertil.[1] It was the first assembly plant Volvo opened outside of Sweden and the first non-domestic auto plant in North America

    In 1967, the plant was moved to a newer 30,000-square-foot (2,787 m2) facility in Clayton Park, Nova Scotia (Bayer’s Lake) which enabled production to exceed 8,000 cars per year.

    While the plant was very successful,[8] on September 9, 1998 Volvo decided to close the Halifax plant and end its 225 jobs, citing globalization and NAFTA as two of the reasons. The last Volvo was built in Canada on 18 December 1998.”

    The claim that this was the first non-domestic auto plant in North America was new to me. For years I believe that the giant Rootes Motors facility in Scarborough also did some assembly, but I was incorrect in this assumption.

    Here is a link to an article and a picture of the Rootes facility. Rootes presence in Scarboro is a truly fascinating story that remains to be fully told.
    http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2012/03/01/lost-dealerships-project-rootes-group-canadian-headquarters/

    • 0 avatar
      Sjalabais

      Knock-down kit assembly is not a full scale factory?

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @sjalabais,
        Of course not, that’s why it states assembly and not manufacture.
        Still it provided over 200 ‘good’ jobs for over 3 decades.

        And many of us, including I believe Lord Black of Crossharbour were hoping at one point that the Canadian government would invest in a bankrupt or near bankrupt auto manufacturer to create a ‘Canadian’ controlled automotive company. Volvo was one that was discussed. A ‘socialistic’ concept indeed but one that at that time had some economic validity regarding in-house R&D and economic spin-offs.

        • 0 avatar
          Steinweg

          Thank you for reminding the world of this important chapter in Nova Scotia history. Many 240DLs were knocked together here. Also, Halifax was home to one of the first IKEAs in North America.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          Canada has/had Lords? Is that why the guy in your avatar wears a trilby; tugged his forelocks right out?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Rolls-Royce produced cars in Springfield, Massachusetts beginning in 1921 until they were done in by the Depression. I’m not sure they were the first non-domestic auto plant in North America, but they were at it before Volvo.

  • avatar
    timer555

    If Volvo update their vehices they will have twice as its current sales. Their problem is not the quality.They are known for being very reliable cars and the safest in the world. They have invented many innovations for example the SEAT BELT. And they left the patent opened and this probably have saved millions of lives. If volvo didn’t exist some ppl like CoreyDL who criticise Volvo won’t probably be alive to criticize it… So their proble is that most of their current vehicles(except the XC90) are extremely dated. They are the same since 2006, 2007, 2008. The other manufacturers changed at least 1 generation since then. Look at Mitsubishi which vehicles are too extremely outdated like Volvo’s and becuase of this Mitsubishi had became a low volume manufacturer see this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsubishi_Motors_North_America#Sales
    Their sales have rapidly declined due to dated products and they are nearly to leave US market. Volvo is on the same way but if they update their products they will sell most of the vehicles manifactured in the new plant.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      I hate to interrupt your protest detailing the long and storied history of Volvo, but they neither invented the seat belt, nor were they the first automaker to offer them standard. (They did, however develop the three-point belt.)

      Volvo’s legendary reputation for safety is so far in the past, I doubt it would be much of a factor in their resurgence. Their current cars are not exceptionally reliable (though not necessarily horrible), nor are they appreciably safer than decent cars from any other manufacturer.

      Yes, their product is outdated, but a product refresh alone isn’t going to help them out much. That’s going to take some clever marketing, a large expansion of the dealer network, and probably cut-rate pricing.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I could have not telled if it was a history or a future has it of comment for it.

      • 0 avatar
        curious_g

        You are woefully confused. Volvo’s “legendary reputation” continues to be just that and is most certainly not in the past. Every single car they have passes the small offset crash despite being designed well before the test was invented and they were the first to integrate accident avoidance as standard and continue to push the technology forward. Do some research before you post.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Yeah, if you don’t change a car every 5 years, you might as well be… Jeep or Mercedes or something.

      The problem with Mitsubishis is not that they haven’t gotten a refresh since 2007 … it’s that they’re Mitsubishis.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Volvo doesn’t offer enough fender between the front of the doors and the back of the front wheels to charge luxury prices. It’s possible to sell FWD luxury vehicles, but only if you go to the lengths that Audi did to hide FWD proportions. The S60 not only has FWD proportions in front, but they mimic the shape of the lowly Honda Civic in back.

      • 0 avatar
        tremorcontrol

        When you test drove the S60, how were the handling dynamics? I’ve actually driven one, and it’s not a slouch. No, it’s not a BMW, but it doesn’t have the harder ride of a BMW either. Different priorities for different people.

        FWIW, I’ve seen many MB vehicles that look like a Toyota Camry from the back. I don’t think you’re correctly diagnosing Volvo’s issues.

      • 0 avatar
        curious_g

        Looks nothing like the civic in the rear.

    • 0 avatar
      curious_g

      You don’t seem to be paying attention to Volvo – their products are in no way comparable to Mistubishi in terms of being outdated. What is outdated? The S80/xc70 I suppose, but they have been overhauled extensively with new engines and technology (as have the 60 series cars). Heard of Drive-e ?

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    I was impressed by my skilled labor workers in charleston sc. Very kind and respectful. Worked very hard and were respectful of the chain of command. Although I’ve also had mostly good luck in central illinois too. I’ve avoided having UAW workers like the plague.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      North Charleston used to be in the top 10 ranking of cities for crime per capita, hopefully the factory is away from that area. Or maybe the area has gotten better, didn’t seem like it last summer. Or this spring.

      • 0 avatar
        korvetkeith

        Yes the upper peninsula has some rough spots. I worked near the airport, which was fine. And lived downtown, most of which is fine.

        Lots of money is pouring into the city and the blighty areas are bound to get driven off the peninsula, to where I’m not sure.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • SuperCarEnthusiast: Looks more like a Land Rover Defender then the new Defender does! I will be interested in look at...
  • DenverMike: You should go to So Calif. They’re just everyday trucks, they work for a living, or just commuters,...
  • RHD: Before they scrap them, they should consider exporting the more interesting ones. It’s strange how low a...
  • mfrank: It wasn’t just quality. Datsuns always seemed more modern than other brands and look more appealing...
  • -Nate: My late father in law brought home a 1981 (?) version of this from the original owner, it was a N/A Diesel as...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber