Volvo S90 production will be moved to China
Volvo's long wheelbase S90 Excellence has been designed for China
The S90 Excellence swaps a front seat for an infotainment system
Production for the range-topping S90 and the newly launched, China-focused long-wheelbase models, the S90 L and S90 Excellence will be handled in Daqing in the Heilongjiang province of northern China. Up until now the S90 has been built in Torslanda, Sweden.
Volvo, which is owned by Chinese car maker Geely, also confirmed that a large number of 60-series models, such as the S60 and its V60 estate equivalent, will be built in Chengdu, in western China’s Szechuan province.
More compact 40-series models will be built at Geely's yet to be finished plant in Luqiao, which lies 200 miles south of Shanghai. The site will also be responsible for producing models for Geely’s new LynK&Co brand, which are built on Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture.
Speaking today at the launch of the long-wheelbase S90 models in Shanghai, Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo, said: “With three plants – and the designation of one car line for each plant – Volvo creates an efficient production structure ensuring future capacity for growth.”
Lars Danielsson, Volvo's senior vice president for the Asia Pacific region, added: "We are leveraging our advantage of being one company [with Geely] instead of a joint venture [in China]. China is replacing the US to become the world’s biggest premium car maker with over two million this year.
"Our mission with to become the world’s most progressive automotive brand."
Volvo’s new Chinese sites will join its two European plants, one in Sweden and another in Belgium, which will continue to make certain 90-series and 60-series models. A new plant in South Carolina, USA, will eventually join the list and make 60-series models primarily for the North American market.
China is a fast-growing market for Volvo. It sold 54,496 units there in the first eight months of 2016, 10% up on the year before.
In comparison, Volvo sold close to 44,000 cars in Britain last year, but it hopes to increase that number to 60,000 by 2020.
Volvo S90 L and S90 Excellence
Two new versions of the S90 have been launched into China. The first, the S90 L, is a 120mm-longer version of the S90 saloon designed to offer more rear leg room.
The second, the S90 Excellence, is a three-seat S90 a based on the L's stretched underpinnings. It ditches the front passenger seat in order to improve front-facing visibility for the rear passenger, replacing the missing seat with a touchscreen infotainment system.
The model is designed specifically for the Chinese market, where wealthy passengers are often driven rather than driving themselves. Volvo said it could offer both the S90 L and Excellence to other markets should there be enough demand, but added that the UK was an unlikely candidate.
Geely's Brexit confidence
The chairman of Chinese car maker Geely doesn’t believe Britain’s ejection from the European Union will affect its relationship with China.
Li Shufu said he thinks the trend of growing ties between the UK and China would continue into the future, despite concerns the Brexit vote would make Britain a less attractive place for foreign investment.
“We respect the decision made by the people, and so the relations with China will continue to develop,” he said. “We have no plans to change our investment in Britain.”
Geely is a parent company to the London Taxi Company, based in Coventry. The firm has recently ramped up investment to produce low-emission vehicles such as the TX5 taxi.
“Our focus with the company remains the development of the TX5,” said Li. “Then there is the LCV, an urban electric logistics vehicle, which will serve the European market first before being exported.”