Volvo seeks N.A. production help
Jacoby's 'looking for a partner,' perhaps Fiat
Jacoby: "If you speak to [Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio] Marchionne, just tell him to call me."
Photo credit: SILVIA STEINBACH
MONTE CARLO, Monaco -- Volvo may build vehicles in North America with another automaker, and Fiat is among the potential partners.
In "five to six years, we need to find a proper solution in North America," Volvo Car Corp. CEO Stefan Jacoby told Bloomberg at the Automotive News Europe Congress here. "Building a plant ourselves is maybe more unlikely. I'm looking for a partner that could help us utilize a North American plant."
Volvo, which is owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group of China, is talking to a "couple" of manufacturers, Jacoby said. He declined to identify the potential partners but said Volvo is "open to everybody."
He said: "Fiat is obviously one of the alternatives. If you speak to [Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio] Marchionne, just tell him to call me."
Jacoby said cooperation ideally would involve sharing development costs on smaller cars.
Volvo has been considering an assembly plant in North America to hedge against its heavy dependence on the euro. In the past, Jacoby has said Volvo would consider a partner for the project, ideally in the United States or Mexico.
He said Volvo is posting losses in the United States but is profitable in Europe.
In a separate interview here, Jacoby said Volvo has sold out all 1,000 units that it plans to build of a plug-in diesel hybrid, a version of the V60. Deliveries of the Europe-only model begin in the fourth quarter. The price is about $72,000, $8,800 more than a comparably equipped V60 diesel.
The United States and China will get gasoline hybrids, but Volvo has not decided when.
"We had originally planned to offer a gasoline hybrid model in the U.S. in 2014, based on the XC60 or S60," Jacoby said. "But we are currently evaluating whether to begin with new models based on the SPA architecture."
The first vehicle based on Volvo's SPA architecture will be the XC90 replacement, due in 2015.
"SPA was designed from Day 1 to incorporate any variant of hybrid powertrain," Jacoby said.
He reaffirmed Volvo's plans to build a low-cost vehicle in China that Volvo will market jointly with local sister brand Geely Automobile.
The model is likely to be a small SUV, he said. The construction of the plants in China, which needs government approval, is "on track," Jacoby said. The first factory, in Chengdu, is scheduled to start producing cars in the second half of 2013, he said.
Volvo, which Geely acquired from Ford Motor Co. in August 2010 for $1.8 billion, aims to double sales to 800,000 vehicles by 2020, up from 449,255 deliveries in 2011.
Jacoby said Volvo is on track to sell about 450,000 units this year.
You can reach Luca Ciferri at email@example.com.