Volvo, once the success story in Ford's Premier Automotive Group, has hit choppy waters. And according to Wall Street Journal insiders, Ford is preparing to treat the Swedish automaker the same way it did the English ones: slap some floaties on it and keep the brand bobbing long enough to sell it.

Volvo made $94 million in profit in Q1 of 2007, but lost $151 million in Q1 of this year. In total, over the past two years, the once smiling Swede has lost $1.7 billion, part of which is due to exchange rates, and another is due to selling fewer cars. To combat the decline, Volvo is shedding up to a third of its work force at one European plant, and cutting back on production at another. As you would suspect, both of those plants make the largest vehicles in Volvo's lineup.

A couple of weeks ago, Ford was intriguingly -- or deceitfully -- still in "Volvo's not for sale" mode. Now it appears that Mulally has admitted to some Ford execs that Volvo is about to wear the "Needs a Caring Home" sign. Jerry York, the right hand man of Kirk Kerkorian, maintains that Volvo will probably be sold in 18 months. The way things look now, we'd be surprised if it took that long.

[Source: Wall Street Journal via Yahoo!]