Ford has admitted that it’s seriously considering selling Volvo as part of a drastic strategy to save cash.
“It is prudent for Ford to evaluate options for Volvo,” said Ford President Alan Mulally.
“Volvo has launched an aggressive plan to right-size its operations and improve its financial results. As we conduct this review, we are committed to making the best decision for both Ford and Volvo going forward.”
Until now, Ford has always insisted that Volvo is an integral part of its future plans.
The Detroit giant says the review will take several months, but adds that it plans to put in measures to allow Volvo to operate on a ‘more standalone basis’.
Blue Oval bosses will hope that talking seriously about selling the premium Swedish sub-brand will win them favour with the US Senate and potentially release billion-dollar government loans to bolster Ford’s global operations and secure its future.
“This is not a ‘fire sale’,” a Ford source revealed to Autocar. “We need to find the right buyer for Volvo.” Ford is understood to be concerned about its intellectual property and engineering getting into the hands of another company.
Stephen Odell, the managing director of Volvo, has this weekend been in further talks with the Swedish government about a separate $248 million cash injection for Volvo Cars.
GM is thought to be in similar talks with the Swedish government regarding Saab.
Swedish industry experts have been mooting the idea of nationalising both makers in an effort to safeguard jobs in the country.
Volvo Group - which sold Volvo Cars to Ford in 1999 and now makes commercial vehicles - has already distanced itself from any potential takeover deal.
“We absolutely do not want to buy Volvo Cars,” chairman Finn Johnsson told reporters.
He was critical of suggestions that the two car makers could be nationalised, saying: “The state knows nothing about the car industry.” Johnsson suggested that French brand Renault would be best placed to take over Volvo Cars.
Although its UK sales were up 23 per cent year-on-year last month, Volvo posted losses of $458 million in the third quarter of this year.