Business / Auto Global

Geely takes Volvo sedans to US

By Yan Yiqi in Hangzhou (China Daily) Updated: 2015-06-05 14:28

Geely takes Volvo sedans to US

Models pose next to the Volvo all-new S60L sedan at the launching ceremony during the 2013 Auto Guangzhou on Nov 21, 2013, the media day of the auto show. [Hao Yan/]

Company now has competitiveness in innovation and after-sales services

The first batch of China-made Volvo S60 Inscription sedans will go on sale at dealerships in the United States in two months, marking the formal debut of luxury cars made in China in overseas markets.

Li Shufu, chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co, the owner of Volvo, said that the export of China-made Volvo sedans has proved that Chinese auto companies now have the capabilities to manufacture top-quality cars.

"We have already gained competitiveness in innovation and after-sales services in the global market," he said.

Sean McAlinden, chief economist of the Michigan, United States-based Center for Automotive Research, said that the debut of China-made Volvo cars in US markets is a watershed moment for the nation's auto industry.

"Currently, China does not export any world-class luxury cars which require the highest levels of design and assembly quality. If a Chinese S60 succeeds, it means other luxury vehicles from China can also be accepted in the global markets. It is something that will accord great respect to the industry," he said.

When Geely purchased Volvo five years ago for $1.8 billion, there were doubts about whether a Chinese auto company can undertake the task of bringing Volvo to a larger market.

"Let the figures talk for themselves," Li said.

In 2014, Volvo sold 465,900 cars worldwide. Sales revenue hit 2.25 billion Swedish krona ($302 million), a 17.4 percent year-on-year growth. It was the company's best performance in eight years, Li said, adding that Volvo's sales will surpass 500,000 cars this year.

"Volvo is regaining its global market share within these years, as we promised in the purchase," he said.

While Volvo is expanding its market share, manufacturing facilities and administrative centers, Geely is also gaining valuable brand traction.

Li said that the competitiveness of Chinese auto brands in the global market lies in their ability to innovate. And that is precisely the reason why Geely purchased Volvo five years ago, he said.

"What we wanted is to combine Volvo and Geely into a unified research and development platform, from which we can share technology," he said. "Geely has a whole industrial chain that can lower R&D costs, while Volvo helps us improve innovation capability."

In December, Geely launched its new flagship model Geely Borui GC9 in Beijing. It is the first product of Geely's new international design team. Led by former Volvo design chief Peter Horbury, the team combines members in Gothenburg of Sweden, Shanghai, Barcelona and Los Angeles.

Within the first minute of its launch, 266 orders were placed via e-commerce platforms, while the number reached 1,000 in just seven minutes.

The Associated Press described the release of the sedan as the resurgence of Chinese auto brands.

Li said that market response showed that Chinese customers are becoming more confident toward the nation's own brands.

"As long as we can guarantee the design and quality, I believe most Chinese customers are willing to choose China's own brands," he said.

During the first four months of this year, Geely sold 180,643 cars worldwide, a 44 percent year-on-year growth. As the largest private sedan-manufacturing company in China in terms of revenue, Li said that the company still has a long way to go to catch up with global leaders.

"There is still a gap between being the largest and the strongest. I want China's automobile industry to win more respect from the world and the next target should be accomplishing 'created by China' from 'made in China'," he said.

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