Geely, Volvo tar­get world mar­ket with China-built luxury car

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Fu Ting and Kelvin Chan

SHANG­HAI >> 25The fac­tory, cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion in Luqiao, 350 kilo­me­ters (220 miles) south of Shang­hai, is owned by Geely but will be op­er­ated by Volvo.

The plat­form is one of just two un­der­pin­ning Volvo’s en­tire lineup. They give the com­pany flex­i­bil­ity to build a wide range of ve­hi­cle sizes and body styles, help­ing it com­pete with big­ger ri­vals.

Volvo added a long wheel­base ver­sion of its top-of-the-line S90 sedan as well as the “su­per luxury” Ex­cel­lence edi­tion aimed at China’s chauf­feured busi­ness class, who typ­i­cally de­sire a more spa­cious back­seat. The S90 Ex­cel­lence’s “lounge con­sole” with its touch­screen mon­i­tor on re­tractable arms takes all of the front pas­sen­ger side. The car comes with a panoramic sun­roof and hand­made Swedish crys­tal glasses.

Sa­muels­son said the two new ver­sions “will be the most lux­u­ri­ous cars ever pro­duced in China” when Volvo’s two-year-old plant in Daqing, Hei­longjiang prov­ince starts making the S90 range in the com­ing months.

“The fact that these cars will be ex­clu­sively built in China for the global mar­ket demon­strates the qual­ity of our Chi­nese fac­to­ries,” he said.

Another Volvo fac­tory in Chengdu in cen­tral Sichuan prov­ince pro­duces mid­size S60 cars, which the com­pany started ex­port­ing last year to the United States.

With only a few thou­sand ve­hi­cles dis­patched an­nu­ally from China, “the num­ber of Volvos go­ing to the U.S. is still small. But the im­por­tant take­away is that ship­ping to the U.S. means Volvo China op­er­a­tions have achieved world­class qual­ity,” said Michael Dunne, pres­i­dent of Hong Kong-based in­vest­ment ad­vi­sory firm Dunne Au­to­mo­tive .

Geely Chair­man Li Shufu’s de­ci­sion to give Volvo man­age­ment am­ple in­de­pen­dence has paid off, he added. Last year Volvo op­er­at­ing prof­its tripled and ve­hi­cle sales sur­passed half a mil­lion units for the first time.

“Now Ger­man luxury mak­ers are tak­ing a closer look at their com­ing chal­lenger,” Dunne said.

Volvo’s fac­to­ries in Gothen­burg, Swe­den and Ghent, Bel­gium will con­tinue to make sedans, hatch­backs and sport-util­ity ve­hi­cles in all three model ranges. It’s also build­ing a plant in South Carolina to make mid­sized ve­hi­cles.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Li Shufu, Chair­man of Zhe­jiang Geely Hold­ings, left, shakes hands with Hakan Sa­muels­son, CEO of Volvo Cars, right, in front of a new S90 Volvo car in Shang­hai, China, Wed­nes­day. Volvo Cars and its Chi­nese owner are revving up their pro­file as they fo­cus on sell­ing pre­mium cars in world mar­kets. The com­pa­nies an­nounced a strat­egy Wed­nes­day that in­cludes a new fac­tory to make ve­hi­cles based on a new shared plat­form, in­clud­ing ve­hi­cles for Geely’s new “con­nected car” brand, Lynk & Co.

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