Reports last week that Geely-owned Volvo would double its investment in Berkeley County, South Carolina, were confirmed today by the Swedish automaker. Volvo’s investment rises to $1.1 billion, the employee count is expected to climb to 4,000, and the Charleston plant will build not one but two Volvo models.
Volvo announced its intention to build its South Carolina plant in May 2015. The first vehicles, set to be third-generation Volvo S60s, will begin rolling off the assembly line in the fall of 2018, just one year from now. By 2021, Volvo revealed today, the company will also be assembling its flagship SUV, the XC90, in South Carolina.
Surprised? Of course not.
The United States is Volvo’s highest-volume market for the XC90, a model that accounted for four-in-ten Volvo USA sales in 2016 and 36 percent so far this year. But supply hasn’t always been to Volvo USA’s liking. Even with Volvo planning to send “a considerable amount of XC90 volume” out of the United States, building the vehicle that Americans want in America will be a huge boost for dealers who want to get their hands on the right XC90 models.
South Carolina becomes Volvo’s fifth global assembly plant — a third Chinese plant is also under construction. With this new investment, Volvo will have the capacity to assemble 150,000 vehicles per year in America. U.S. capacity will be vital for Volvo to achieve its goals. Outgoing Volvo Car USA president and CEO Lex Kerssemakers believes Volvo should break its U.S. sales record (139,384 units, set in 2004) by selling 150,000 vehicles annually by 2020.
Of course, part of the recipe for achieving that goal will involve the new Volvo XC40, a model that won’t be built in North America. Volvo will also benefit from steadily rising sales of its second-generation XC60. The new model arrived this summer and helped the XC60 report 2,521 August sales, a 58-percent increase compared with the monthly average Volvo has reported over the last year.
[Images: Volvo Cars]