Volvo Cars is weighing a site in South Carolina against one in another Southern state as it prepares to invest $500 million in its first U.S. plant, people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The Swedish carmaker has reduced its short list to two potential locations, including Berkeley County, S.C., said the sources, who asked not to be identified.
Volvo U.S. spokesman Jim Nichols said the automaker hopes to make a decision “in the next few weeks.”
The sources did not give further details or identify the second state.
In late March, Volvo manufacturing and purchasing chief Lars Wrebo told Automotive News that talks were being held with three states.
Wrebo said production will start in 2018 with targeted annual capacity of 100,000 to 120,000 vehicles. They would use underpinnings of the company’s new XC90 SUV, he said.
Wrebo said he expected the site to be chosen by the end of May. Local government collaboration on work force training will be a key factor in the decision, he said.
South Carolina economic development officials have filed a permit application for an unidentified company to build a manufacturing plant in Berkeley County. The plant would initially create 2,000 jobs, potentially doubling to 4,000 within 10 years.
The South Carolina officials identified the project only with the name Project Soter. Soter is the spirit of safety in Greek mythology, and Volvo’s cars have a long-standing reputation for safety.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development declined to comment on whether the state was in the running for the Volvo plant, and officials with the Alabama Department of Commerce could not immediately be reached.
The automaker, which is owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, has said the plant will serve export markets as well as the United States. Volvo is aiming for U.S. sales of 100,000 vehicles, compared with just over 56,000 last year.
Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson has called a North American plant “the last piece in establishing our global footprint.”
Samuelsson said the final choice for the plant’s location would reflect availability and cost of skilled workers as well as logistics, including the export of finished cars.
David Phillips contributed to this report.