Volvo celebrated its first U.S. factory with a groundbreaking ceremony in Berkeley County, South Carolina. With near perfect execution, the company’s North America CEO, Lex Kerssemakers, donned a hard hat and began digging at the new factory site using a Volvo excavator. The new factory will serve as the global production hub for the next-generation Volvo S60 and will have the capacity to build 100,000 vehicles per year.
The S60 and another “yet to be determined” model will be exported globally from the Port of Charleston. The first South Carolina-built Volvos are planned to roll off the assembly line in late 2018.
The $500 million South Carolina plant will be Volvo’s fifth factory and comes after a two year turnaround since the Swedish carmaker was sold by Ford to Chinese-owned Geely in 2010. The new factory will be one of three Volvo plants producing vehicles on the company’s new Scalable Product Architecture and will join existing plants in Sweden, Belgium, China and Malaysia. The new XC90 crossover SUV is the first vehicle to use the new architecture.
The plant will employ up to 2,000 people over the next decade, with the potential to reach 4,000 in the longer term.
Kerssemakers said Volvo has received 18,000 job applications even though the factory won’t begin hiring until 2017.
“When you build a plant, you do it for the next 50 to 60 years,” Kerssemakers said. “We could’ve gone to Mexico, but we have clearly elected the United States to give a very strong signal to our network, to our retailers and also to our customers that we are paving the way for the next 50 years.”
Last year the company proved it is on the path to recovery by selling 465,866 cars worldwide last year — breaking a previous sales record from 2007 — on the back of soaring sales in China, and strong activity in Europe.
Have you seen the all-new 2016 Volvo XC90? We’re duly impressed by Volvo’s latest offering. Watch this “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the XC90” video and tell us if you agree.