Volvo's pending sale to Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group could lead to big changes (or not) for the Swedish automaker and its thousands of employees, but what about its hundreds of Volvo dealerships here in the States? Could Volvo dealers be granted Geely franchises? Will the Chinese automaker utilize its new sales channels to slowly introduce low-cost Chinese vehicles to the U.S. market? Automotive News asked dealers from around the country if they would be interested in selling Geely models, and the responses were mixed at best.
According to AN, many dealers were "receptive" to selling low-cost Geely models; a seemingly expected answer for any good business type. Mark O'Steen of O'Steen Volvo in Jacksonville, Florida reportedly called the possibility of selling Geely models "appealing," adding "it is just another niche that we don't cover, and hopefully they do have some potential in the United States." Mike DiChristofano, vice president of Volvo of Tucson in Arizona had perhaps the best answer of all, pointing to the inability of General Motors to selll off Saab (at least to this point), adding "until this deal goes down, I'm not even thinking about selling a Geely car."
Even if Geely does plan to begin selling Chinese vehicles to the U.S. market by using Volvo dealers, the plan will likely take a lot of time to materialize. Geely reportedly has a lot of work to do to improve safety and quality before being ready for the U.S. market. Global Insight analyst Lin Huaibin told AN that Geely is at least five years away from having products ready for American showrooms.
[Source: Automotive News – sub. req. | Image: David McNew/Getty]