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To Win In China, You Must Be Big In The United States

Volvo is building a plant in South Carolina as part of its drive to become a global automaker, instead of a European niche brand. Here's what it means.

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Volvo has announced plans to build a factory in the US for $500 million. A location is not yet officially disclosed, but production could begin as soon as 2018.

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A Reuters story says that Volvo plans to ship a small number of its Chinese-built S60L sedans to the US this year, and that they could be joined by a Chinese-built S90 sedan.

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Volvo is furthering its deep ties in China by announcing a major expansion to its factory in Daqing that will equip the site to build its future S90 sedan. The automaker is promising to make the plant, "one of the most advanced car making facilities in China," according to its press release. Unfortunately, the company isn't specifying the amount being invested or how long the work will take.

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Volvo sold 449,255 cars globally in 2011, with 67,240 of those sales coming from right here in the States. By 2020, CEO Stefan Jacoby aims to boost those numbers to 800,000 sales globally and 120,000 here, and to do so, he can't let the exchange rate between the dollar and the euro stand in the way. That's why, according to a report in Automotive News, Jacoby says the company will spend "the next two or three years" considering building a plant in the U.S. or Mexico.

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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.

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