There have been periodic rumors of a United States assembly plant for Volvo cars since at least the early 1980s. There was a North American construction arm of the Swedish carmaker, situated in Nova Scotia, but that plant has been shuttered for several years now. Volvo CEO Fredrik Arp has told Automotive News that an American plant would take an unacceptably long time to pay for itself, according to the automaker's studies. A weak dollar doesn't help the economic argument for a plant in the States, either. Volvo can currently handle its goal of 600,000 units worldwide, which they have yet to meet. Current plant capacity is good for 590,000 vehicles, so it goes building any new plants, Volvo would be wise to fully utilize its current capacity. The automaker is looking to markets other than North America to drive growth in the coming years -- China, India and Russia all look to be emerging soon as major Volvo buyers.
Arp would not be pressed regarding rumors of Volvo being put up for sale by parent Ford, but he did comment that the historically green-minded automaker has its finger on the pulse of viable alternative powertrains for the US market. Diesels and alternative fuels are big in Europe, but Volvo's not going to just forge ahead in the US with those technologies. Rather, what they intend to do is watch and see what green platform takes off here, and follow on quickly with their own version of whatever that turns out to be. Volvo is too much of a niche player in the US market to risk developing something that may be met with a yawn by the US consumer. Up for sale or not, it looks like Gothenburg's Rollers have their eyes on the brass ring.
[Source: Automotive News - sub req]