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While expanding in China, Volvo is set to make Lynk & CO a global brand
Automotive News China | 2018/5/11

BEIJING -- Volvo Car Corp. assembles the S60 and X60 at its Chengdu plant and the S90 at a Daqing factory. It will build the new XC40 compact crossover at its new plant in Luqiao in east China¡¯s Zhejiang province next year. 

At the Beijing auto show in April, Volvo Car CEO Hakan Samuelsson, 67, told  Automotive News China  Managing Editor Jian Yang how Volvo plans to expand its operations in China and to assist in turning Lynk & CO, which it jointly owns with parent Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, into a global brand. 

China is Volvo¡¯s largest single market worldwide. What do you think of the company¡¯s performance in China so far this year?
I am very satisfied with the sales. Last year, we had fast sales growth in China, which has continued this year -- in the first quarter, our sales went up 23 percent year on year. 

We have a strong team and a good product lineup here. We recently localized production of the new XC60. The XC40 is now sold in China through imports, and production will be localized in China next year. The S90 is only made in Daqing, from which we export it to Sweden and America. Very few car manufacturers have a global car made only in China.  

Last year, China accounted for about 20 percent of Volvo¡¯s global sales. What share of  the company¡¯s global sales does Volvo expect will be generated in China in the future, say in the next five years?
We have no target for that. But you see in the first quarter we grew our global sales by 14 percent, but in China the growth was 23 percent. If that continues, we will have a higher percentage of global sales coming from China. 

Volvo announced this year it will start producing Geely¡¯s Lynk & CO models in its Belgium plant next year. Will Volvo also assemble Lynk & CO cars in the United States?
That¡¯s a possibility because we can build Lynk & CO models in our U.S. plant, but the first step is to introduce its cars in Europe. The next step could be introducing Lynk & CO to the U.S., which is still not decided. We can really make Lynk & CO a global brand because we can support that in production as well as spare parts and services. Collaboration with Volvo will make Lynk & CO probably the most realistic China brand to become a really global brand. Not everybody has such a partner as Volvo. 

Volvo exports the S60 and S90 to the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump is threatening a trade war with China. Do you think that will affect Volvo¡¯s exports of vehicles from China to the U.S.?
I would prefer not speculating. But that would be very bad for Volvo, for the whole auto industry and for the economy if there are some trade restrictions. Hopefully that will not happen. We believe in free trade that has created a lot of wealth in the world and opened up all sorts of new opportunities. For example, we¡¯ll start producing the Volvo XC40 at the Charleston plant (in S.C. in the U.S.) in a couple of months. At the plant 4,000 jobs are related to exports. Obviously free trade is good for the U.S. as well.

A German magazine has reported that Volvo may take a small stake in Daimler. Is this true?
This is pure speculation. 

Geely bought a nearly 10 percent interest in Daimler this year. Will there be some kind of partnership between Volvo and Daimler?

I won¡¯t rule out cooperation with anybody. We are open to doing things that are in Volvo¡¯s interest with other carmakers. But primarily we are not seeking a partnership with other carmakers. If you look into our new partnerships, you¡¯ll see they are technology companies -- Uber, Google and Amazon. 

Volvo has started offering in-car delivery services in the United States. Does the company plan to provide similar services in China?
A: We have no concrete plans to start providing the services in China. It is an example of what you can do with connectivity services. But all these are local activities so they cannot be rolled out as a global program. I believe there will be local interest in these services, because Chinese people are big Internet shoppers. It¡¯s possible we have to do it in China with local partners -- there are some big players here. 

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