BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. — Volvo Car Group has inaugurated production at a $1.1 billion factory in Berkeley County, near Charleston, the car maker's first U.S. plant.
The new facility complements the firm's two assembly plants and an engine plant in Europe, three car factories and an engine plant in China and assembly plants in India and Malaysia.
For now, the U.S. plant will be the exclusive production site for the new S60 mid-size sports sedan, although output of the Scalable Product Architecture-based car will be added later at one of the company's Chinese plants.
Volvo Car USA CEO Anders Gustafsson called the opening a "very big deal" and said the new plant will be a big asset to both Volvo Cars and the community.
From 2021, the factory also will build the next generation of the Volvo XC90 large premium SUV. Cars built at the plant are destined both for the domestic U.S. market and international export, Volvo said.
The current S60 is produced in Ghent, Belgium, but it is being phased out there to make room for Volvo's new family of compact models, such as the XC40.
The 2.3 million-sq.-ft. plant can produce 150,000 cars per year at full capacity, Volvo said. Production is starting with about 1,500 employees, but employment should scale up to 4,000 over time, Volvo said.
Owned today by China's Zhejiang Geely Holding, Volvo Cars was founded in 1927 in Gothemburg, Sweden, and was part of the Swedish Volvo Group until 1999, when it was bought by Ford Motor Co. Geeley Holding took over in 2010.
In 2017, the company sold 571,577 cars, which represents a global market share of 1 to 2 percent. China is the largest market, representing about 20 percent of sales, followed by the U.S. (14 percent), Sweden (13 percent), the United Kingdom (8 percent) and Germany (7 percent), the company said