Volvo Cars Plans to Export Half of New U.S. Plant’s Output

Updated on
  • Swedish automaker rejected idea of building S60s in Mexico
  • CEO says costs were similar to Mexico so stuck with U.S. plant

Volvo Cars CEO: It's Important to Build in the U.S.

Volvo Car Group, owned by a Chinese billionaire since 2010, plans to export half of a new South Carolina factory’s output to Asia and Europe.

The company plans to build 60,000 S60 sedans in Charleston initially then expand to 100,000, Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo Cars’ chief executive officer, said at a dinner at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. That suggests as many as 50,000 vehicles will head overseas from the factory in Charleston, which opens in 2018.

The company considered building them in Mexico but decided the cost evened out with the South Carolina location, Samuelsson said. “There was no big difference financially” with building the car in Mexico, he said. “For us, it was a wash.”

The Swedish carmaker has been moving toward a revival under Chinese billionaire Li Shufu. Since the entrepreneur’s company bought Volvo from Ford Motor Co. for $1.5 billion six years ago, Geely has invested $11 billion to modernize production facilities and overhaul its product lineup.

“We believe in free trade and we also have to produce near our customers to have customer insights,” Samuelsson said.

Volvo doesn’t “see any big threats” from President-elect Donald Trump’s criticism of trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, Samuelsson said. 

“I’ve not heard Trump being against trade, it’s that he’s for fair trade,” Samuelsson said. “He could stir things up. But let’s wait to see what really happens.”

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