The Chinese are everywhere these days. Until now I’ve made no comment about Ford’s plans to sell Volvo Cars. But after my recent post on Chinese railroads, it feels timely to make a remark on the possibility that Ford sells Volvo Cars to Chinese Geely.
I wrote a couple of posts (here, here, and here) when the SAAB deal was in its final stages. In the SAAB case my relation was a bit personal since I worked a couple of months in their BIW development department when I did my masters thesis at KTH’s vehicle engineering programme back in 1998. However, my relation to Volvo is much longer: I’ve been driving a Volvo S60 for the last eight years.
There was a time when a large majority of cars sold in Sweden were either Volvo’s or SAAB’s. That was when SAAB was known for its turbo engines and Volvo for its boxy and safe design. Before the GM and Ford times. Today, both brands are just brands like any else. However, statistics from Bil Sweden shows that Volvo keeps the position as the most poular car in Sweden:
Newly registered cars in Sweden, February 2010: 1 VOLVO V70II 2 VW PASSAT 3 VW GOLF 4 VOLVO V50 5 KIA CEE’D 6 AUDI A4 7 FORD FOCUS 8 RENAULT CLIO 9 RENAULT MEGANE 10 VOLVO XC60
Ford bought Volvo Cars from its mother company Volvo AB in 1999. By 2008 Ford was suffering heavy losses and decided to put Volvo up for sales again. Chinese Geely Automotive turned up as Ford’s buyer of choice at an early stage.
However, Swedish newspapers are now reporting that there seems to be some sort of trouble with the Ford–Geely deal. It seems that Geely may be unable to get the approval of Chinese authorities [SvD, SvD].
Two other parties have shown serious interest in taking over Volvo Cars. One is the Swedish “Konsortium Jakob”, which was formed by the auto engineer’s union at Volvo as soon as the Geely bid became known [reuters]. The Jakob consortium has managed recruit some influential supporters, for example former Volvo CEO Sören Gyll. A third bidder is U.S. based group “Crown”.
Now that Geely seems to have some trouble, Jakob and Crown are expressing continued interest. Ford and Geely has agreed to sign a deal before end of March. Apparently, if that fails, and if, for any reason Geely turns out to be unable to close the deal, others are ready waiting to step forward. Being a Swedish Volvo owner, I can’t help feeling a slight hope that there will be a “Swedish solution”.