• Oct 23, 2009
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]


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  • 45 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can't really say how I feel about this whole thing. I like Volvo and their cars have been getter hotter every year. I would prefer Ford keep Volvo but not at the expense of Ford NA, if they need the money and resources for Ford NA then I'm all for getting rid of Volvo.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Time will tell, The marraige between Ford + Volvo has been for some time.
      Volvo is an enovator leading the field with many safety features.
      This could make them attractive to buyers
      • 5 Years Ago
      Duh, almost ALL of Ford's platforms (with the exception of the dinosaur panthers, the trucks, and the Mustang) are either from Mazda or from Ford. When they lose both of them they're going to be in BIG trouble.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Agreed, Ford put many eggs in the Mazda and Volvo baskets. But then, that's why they invested so much in them to begin with. Sometimes you come up with good ideas yourself, sometimes you simply support others who do. Regardless, neither Mazda nor Volvo would be as successful today if not for Ford's investment, nor would Ford be as successful without Mazda and Volvo. "Theft" wasn't involved at any rate.

        I thought it was folly that Ford sold off so much of its interest in Mazda. I like Mazda's product portfolio more than that of any of the other Japanese companies, and admire their efforts to imbue all of their lineup with a bit of sportiness. Likewise, I think Volvo's safety record is something to covet, and Ford would be wise to hold onto them..
        • 5 Years Ago
        Should read "from Mazda or from Volvo". Without them stealing from Mazda and Volvo they'd be toast long ago.
      • 5 Years Ago
      At the end of the day, the Swedish government has more to lose if Ford sells Volvo to the Chinese than Ford does. Geely buying Volvo means the loss of thousands of jobs in Sweden. Expect them to provide Ford with a bailout of sorts to hang on until another buyer can be found. One that won't move the operation to Asia.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ford is not GM! They are not in a desperate, last ditch attempt to fend off bankruptcy at any cost. Now that things are getting better for Ford, and Volvo for that matter, they should consider keeping their Swedish brand, it may prove to be a lucrative asset just yet.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I hope it does unravel.
      Volvo being Chinese owned will do more harm than good.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ford help rebuild mazda, then mazda bought much of itself back from ford...

        so they could go and ask mazda to go buy some volvo...

        but does mazda really have the financial support to do such a thing?

        cause all three companies share technology very closely.
        • 5 Years Ago
        How often are we going to hear Geely Buying Volvo? How about letting us know when they sign the papers.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Throwback: Would you believe that there are actually people who hate the idea of Volvo ending in chinese hands? Does it surprise you that such people are obviously very pleased by news like this one?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't know why the Chinese are concern about intellectual property, they'll steal it and make cheap knockoffs of it anyway.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Seems like a lot of you just comment out of your a$$ most of the time or just plain don't know anything.

      It is plain and simple that Ford or any other more advanced auto company is totally unwilling to sell or license technologies to any Chinese company for competitive reasons. So the offer to sell is basically to anyone BUT the Chinese, yet Ford nor GM or Chrysler will obviously NEVER outright admit this as they fear the repercussions from the Chinese govt and their ability to sell in the newest largest auto market of the world.

      So Ford and all the other auto companies want to milk the Chinese automarket for all it's worth but at the same time are not willing to give, yet the Chinese auto companies are the villains. How fair is that? You can't have your cake and eat it too, you give a little you get a little and so on and so forth.

        • 5 Years Ago
        And yet BAIC will be purchasing a large share in Saab, and is likely to get all the rights to the last-generation 9-5 and be able to use Saab technologies in the future... Nanjing Auto bought out Rover's auto designs and technologies (but lost the name)...

        Chinese automakers are not as unable to get western technologies as you think...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wait, so we want to prevent Chinese automakers from stealing technologies from US automakers, but at the same time we won't allow them to purchase the technology legally, so why not just put down "no Chinese bidder" in the bidding rules.

      I guess the concern here is that should Geely buys Volvo, Ford will have a hard time limit the technologies Geely gained to Volvo's portion instead of other parts of FoMoCo. On the other hand, GM and VW all have extensive cooperation with SAIC, including R&D work, yet IP never seems to be an issue.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A mutual sharing of technology and even platforms is quite different than handing a Chinese copy cat they keys to the family safe and hoping things turn out ok.
        bf71090
        • 5 Years Ago
        Who is this "we" that you talk of. Do you work for or own part of ford. They can sell something they own to whoever they choose. If it's not in their best interest to sell to a Chinese company then that's up to them.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Saw this on the www.cargurus.com/blog yesterday. Thought they'd have some issues working this out. I'm sure it'll all work out in the end.
      • 5 Years Ago
      a buyer's a buyer, and when companies compete the consumer wins. Ford does not want the consumer to win.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If a company can't protect its intellectual property, a lot of incentive to innovate disappears and the consumer loses by getting stuck with outdated technology...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, quite a few of Ford's current platforms and tech IPR originated from Volvo. Ford doesn't want Volvo IPR to leave because Volvo IPR is what Ford has relied on for quite a few things in the past 5-10 years.

        inline 5 duratec? Ford's D3/D4 platform? EUCD (from C1, which is pillaged from P1)? BLIS? Haldex AWD Development?

        PUH-LEEEZE! Quite a bit of Ford's latest and greatest come from Volvo
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Its about Ford's right to keep within itself the technology that it has developed. "

        Well then, it looks like Ford's not in a position to sell in the first place are they??

        Honestly, if Ford is so worried they should not sell it, period. If you think about it, Ford is hoping to offload Volvo to a company that doesn't need it, but is unwilling to sell to companies that could actually put it some use, which doesn't make much sense now does it? What in the hell is the point of Geely buying Vovlo if they can't use the technology?
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Victor what a shame! But that's not true, C1 and EUCD it's origin of Ford.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This isnt about the consumer.

        Its about Ford's right to keep within itself the technology that it has developed.

        Imagine if you spent billions of dollars to develop new platforms and technology to compete in today's market and it was in danger of being Xerox'ed by the Chinese for pennys on the dollar. Would you blame yourself?
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's certainly Ford's right but then why did they even consider selling Volvo at all?!? It's not like they didn't realize that selling Volvo would mean selling a lot of Ford IP.
        But they're not gonna be able to sell Volvo without selling at least some IP with it-who the hell wants Volvo just for the brand?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ironically the photo shows Volvo Lastvagnar = Volvo TRUCKS. That is a totally different company NOT owned by Ford!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Autoblog fact checking department strikes again.
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