Volvo would be “mad not to have a look at” sourcing some Australian-market vehicles from China down the track, according to managing director of its local arm Matt Braid.
While Braid did not say which models Volvo Cars Australia could source from China, he told CarAdvice that a car’s source of production was perhaps less important in the globalised present than it was in the past.
Sourcing cars from China rather than Sweden, were it to happen, would theoretically allow Volvo to source these vehicles at a lower cost, which it could feasibly pass onto consumers.
“It’s something I think in the future is going to happen, that’s the way the industry is changing and I think certainly having a production facility in China is something which you’d be mad not to have a look at from our point of view,” said Braid.
“So it’s under consideration. I don’t think its going to happen overnight, (but) we all know how the industry had changed, and where cars are made these days… it’s only logical that there will be more cars (from China), not just from domestic brands but Chinese-made cars for other known brands.
“I think we'd be naive to at least not be open to it in the future.”
The news comes in the same week as US publication Automotive News reported that Volvo’s Chinese facility would begin exporting a long-wheelbase S60 variant called the S60L to the United States as early as 2015, plus a version of the XC90 believed to be based on the current, not forthcoming new-generation model, to Russia.
This reflects comments made in January this year at the Automotive News World Congress, where Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson announced that Volvos produced in China would be exported to the United States “fairly quickly”.
The Sweden-based company, which is owned China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, already produces a long-wheelbase domestic version of the S60 in China in its own factory. Unlike its rivals, no joint-venture is needed because it is already a Chinese-owned company.
The V40 hatch replacement will also be produced in China when it launches in the coming years underpinned by a new platform being developed jointly with Geely, called the compact modular architecture.
Braid said he was confident this platform-sharing arrangement would be similar to that used within the Volkswagen Group, and that there was no reason for it to tarnish the brand’s reputation.
“I think it would be unfair to say its Geely componentry or Volvo componentry,” he said. “I think it's going to be a platform development type exercise, in line with what every other brand is doing.
“At the end of the day, as with our current cars and others as well, it’s about the brand. As long as people are buying a Volvo that looks, feels, drives as a Volvo should, I don’t think the average person would really care about linkages, technically or otherwise, as has been proven with other brands.
“We are not concerned by that,” he said.
Volvo's two planned plants in China are understood to be on track to have a full capacity of about 250,000 vehicles per year by 2018. By 2020, the company aims to sell around 800,000 cars annually, almost double its current total.