Volvo’s chairman vowed to help Volvo surpass high-end cars like Mercedes-Benz during talks with Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf in east China’s Zhejiang Province.
Li Shufu, chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, met visiting Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Swedish scientists and businessmen in Zhejiang’s capital Hangzhou, where Geely is based, and answered questions concerning Volvo’s future and whether it will cause job losses in Sweden.
Chinese carmaker Geely Holdings Group Co. Ltd. and Ford Motor Co.signed the acquisition deal on March 28 and Geely took over Volvo this August after paying 1.3 billion U.S. dollars.
As soon as the agreement was completed, the Chinese group named Li Shufu, chairman of the board for Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, as the newly appointed chairman of Volvo.
When asked by King Carl XVI Gustaf how Geely would guarantee that Volvo’s standards would not be undermined after Geely’s acquisition, Li Shufu said “We are not just keeping Volvo’s standards, but helping Volvo regain its past glory and surpass Mercedes-Benz and BMW”.
Volvo had been a leader in the automobile industry worldwide for many years. However, Volvo now lags behind in sales and scale, said Li.
“Many of Volvo’s concepts are too advanced and not entirely suitable for the market. For example, the Chinese like big cars, unlike the European consumers,” said Li.
“Volvo’s R&D will be closer to the market needs in the future, and we will produce new Volvo cars that are tailored to the Chinese and can compete with Mercedes-Benz and BMW quite soon,” said Li.
King Carl XVI Gustaf also asked whether three new manufacturing bases to be set up in China would push Swedish suppliers out of business.
Li replied that the Swedish people had nothing to worry about since Geely follows a localized strategy, which means that all Volvo cars sold in Europe will be researched, developed and manufactured in Europe, so European supplies will not be affected.
Volvo plans to set up three plants in three Chinese cities, southwest China’s Chengdu, east China’s metropolis Shanghai and northeast China’s Daqing.
In terms of electric cars, Li said that Geely has been performing research and development on rechargeable batteries and a battery plant is also under construction. The cost of rechargeable batteries will soon be brought down, though there is still a long way to go before electric cars can become mature and commercial.
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping met on Monday with visiting Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and the delegation of Swedish Royal Academy of Engineering Sciences, who are here at the invitation of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
Geely’s 100 percent ownership of Volvo provided the Chinese automaker with Volvo’s nine vehicle models, three latest production platforms, as well as production capacity of 600,000 units and more than 2,000 sales locations worldwide.
Volvo’s brand value is estimated at 2 billion U.S. dollars.