Today Volvo Cars announced an up-to $500 million investment in Berkeley County, South Carolina to build its first U.S. assembly plant due to be operational in 2018.
The automaker, now controlled by Geely, makes several plug-in hybrids for non-U.S. markets, says it will hybridize its entire line with its hybrid-compatible engine architecture including models sold here, and the new plant will build its latest cars.
Volvo Cars does not specify which particular models will be built, but capacity will be for up to 100,000 units for U.S. consumption and for export.
The automaker began importing cars to the U.S. in 1955, the South Carolina plant will join two plants in Europe and two in China, and this marks a historic milestone for the company noted by South Carolina’s governor.
“This is a landmark moment and truly a great day in South Carolina as we welcome Volvo Cars’ first American manufacturing plant to our state,” said Nikki Haley, Governor of South Carolina, “Volvo’s presence and commitment to the community 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.”
Volvo Cars has estimated the factory will employ up to 2,000 people over the next decade and up to 4,000 longer term.
Its move to the U.S. also follows similar investments by competitive European brands including Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Automotive News reports rivals have also chosen Mexico where wages are lower and the workforce is non-union while access to the U.S. and exports are enabled by free-trade agreements.
WardsAutos ays new North American plants will account for most of the 10-percent increase in North American light vehicle production forecast by 2020 to 19.6 million units.
Presently Volvo’s U.S. sales are down 8 percent to 56,000 total annually, and no hybrids are offered to the U.S. as of yet.
The automaker has a goal of 100,000 units and the U.S. factory follows investments first in China under Geely’s ownership which is working to grow Volvo into a true global brand.
“This is a clear sign of commitment to the revival of our U.S. business,” Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said.