Volvo is putting down some big roots in South Carolina. The automaker plans to build its first U.S. plant near Charleston, in an attempt to reach its goal to double global auto sales. The $500 million facility will turn out 100,000 cars a year that will both be sold in the U.S. as well as exported.
“Building a plant in the US is a reflection of Volvo Cars’ commitment to the US and the key role the US plays in our growth objectives,” said Lex Kerssemakers, senior vice president Americas.
Construction on the project will begin in early autumn of 2015 and take several years. The first vehicles are expected to roll off the assembly line in 2018. The automaker already has a big presence overseas, with two plants in Europe and two in China.
“The US remains one of the most dynamic economies in the world and Volvo Cars believes strongly in the benefits of investing and contributing to the markets in which it seeks to sell cars,” said Mr Kerssemakers.
Volvo had narrowed down the location to either South Carolina or Georgia. Volvo says it went with South Carolina due to the regions infrastucture, well-trained labour force, attractive investment environment and experience in the high tech manufacturing sector. The automaker estimates that the plant will employ up to 4,000 people once its up and running. Volvo will become the second European automaker to build cars in South Carolina. BMW opened its first U.S. plant there back in 1994.
South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley says “By bringing $500 million in new investment and 4,000 jobs to this community, Volvo’s presence and commitment to Berkeley County and the state will be felt for decades to come. We are proud to have this global leader in car manufacturing join and strengthen South Carolina’s automotive industry.”
Worldwide, Volvo is also hoping to get sales up with the new XC90 luxury crossover SUV. There are already close to 30,000 pre-orders from across the world and its plant in Gothenburg, Sweden has just started up a third production shift to meet customer demand.
Volvo Cars’ largest market is in China where retail sales were up by 1.8 per cent in April with the Volvo XC60 as the best-selling model. Sales in Western Europe and Sweden were up between five and 10 percent. But Volvo has some work to do in the U.S. Sales in North America were flat in April, with the XC60 and S60 the top sellers.