SHANGHAI -- Geely plans to use a platform developed with input from Volvo to build new models in Malaysia for its partly owned Proton brand, a strategy that shows how it aims to accelerate a push to become China's first global auto giant.
The yet-to-be-finalized plans for Proton are just one strand of a Geely project to revamp factories at home and abroad using joint platforms it has been perfecting with Volvo since 2013. Geely bought the Swedish brand 10 years ago for $1.8 billion -- a deal that raised its international profile and sent shock waves through the global auto industry.
Senior Geely officials and engineers told Reuters that a project dubbed Compact Modular Architecture will allow them to develop, design and build different types of compact cars with similar mechanical layout faster than before -- and at lower cost.
They said CMA, along with a platform for smaller cars known as B-segment Modular Architecture that Geely plans to roll out for Proton, allow them to harness the Swedish automaker's technologies and Geely's capabilities in cost control, supply chain management and local production.
"CMA will be the core of Geely's future architecture design ... We learn technologies and build up talents through developing it," said Li Li, vice president at Geely Automobile Research Institute, confirming the Proton plan during an interview in Ningbo, south of Shanghai. Li declined to disclose details of general investment, financial targets or a timetable for expansion plans.
From its lowly foundation in 1986 in Taizhou on the east coast as a maker of refrigerator parts, Geely has grown into one of the biggest automakers in China, the world's largest auto market accounting for nearly one in every three passenger cars sold around the planet. Geely now sells more than 2 million cars a year across all brands, ranking it not far from the world's top 10 automakers by unit sales.
The CMA platform in particular will allow Geely and Volvo to design vehicles more quickly and cost-effectively, Li said, providing a technological springboard to gain scale and market share at a time when the auto industry must embrace a future featuring electric and autonomously driven transport.