Chinese automakers always saw the wholly Grail in the expansion towards what is now just the second world market – the United States. While the feat has eluded them for years, an unlikely player is set to succeed this year.
After numerous reports and rumors, Volvo Car Group is now getting ready to become the first carmaker with Chinese roots (we reckon, by alliance, through parent company Geely, but that matters less) to export locally manufactured cars to the world’s second largest auto market and the biggest when it comes to luxury cars alone. The move also underscores the threat that loomed for years – after Detroit’s carmakers (especially GM and Ford) secured a big chunk of the Chinese market – that Asian carmakers “strike” back and expand into the US as well. The Swedish automaker is, besides a naturalized Chinese company – being bought since 2010 by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. – also a premium brand, making its idea of exporting Chinese-built vehicles to the US easier to digest.
Stefan Elfstroem, a company spokesperson, acknowledged for Bloomberg on the sidelines of the soon opened North American International Auto Show in Detroit that Volvo plans to make the move for the S60L midsized sedan made in Chengdu – with the Chinese-purpose version being delivered in the US sometimes this year. “It’s a baby step toward China being, from an auto industry standpoint, a truly global player,” comments Jeff Schuster, an analyst with LMC Automotive in Troy, Michigan.