Ford has been trying to offload the Volvo brand since December of 2008, but after years of rumors and speculation those 10 months feel more like a decade. China's Geely has been speculated as the number-one bidder for the Blue Oval's Swedish luxury brand, but a report by Bloomberg asserts that the long-awaited accord could be shelved due to concerns over Ford's intellectual property.
Because Volvo is so tightly integrated into Ford's product development, any buyer of the safety-minded car maker would have inside knowledge of the Blue Oval's future product plans and access to its latest and greatest technology. The buyer would also have direct access to Ford's vehicle architectures, since so many are shared between itself and Volvo. If Geely does in fact purchase Volvo, those platforms, which pass both European and U.S. crash test standards with flying colors, it could give China's largest automaker a better chance of entering the coveted U.S. market. And helping Chinese automakers enter the States probably isn't at the top of the list of things Ford wants to do right now.
U.S. and European automakers have had their hands full in attempting to curb China's lax intellectual property rules. Some vehicles built by Chinese automakers and sold in the land of the Great Wall are nothing more than carbon copies of vehicles from American., Japanese and European automakers... save for a new logo. Ford is also dealing with the case of Xiang Dong Yu, an ex Ford engineer who stole 4,000 sensitive and confidential documents from the Dearborn, MI-based automaker. The sticky-fingered engineer reportedly pilfered the documents in an effort to get a job at Shanghai Automotive but he was instead hired by Bejing Automotive.
The other issue Ford could be facing is the bargain-basement price tag Volvo is rumored to be offered at due to years of recessing sales volume and mounting losses. Ford purchased Volvo in 1999 for over $6 billion, but sources familiar with the brand's sale estimate that the Swedish automaker could now fetch as little as $2 billion. While that sum is nothing to sneeze at, Ford could be better off waiting until the automotive market heats back up gain. The new XC60 crossover has helped curb Volvo's sales woes here in the U.S. to the point that the Swedish Automaker realized a 16% sales climb versus last September. Next year's intro redesigned S60 coupled with several mid-cycle face lifts could continue to help Volvo's short-term prospects.
[Source: Bloomberg | Photo: Sven Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images]