Greensboro News & Record
January 11, 1996
Volvo Car Plant May Be Headed For Southeast
Staff and Wire Reports
Copyright © 1996, Greensboro News & Record
The Swedish carmaker may join BMW and Mercedes-Benz by building an
automobile plant in the southeastern United States.
Swedish carmaker AB Volvo said Wednesday it is considering building cars
in the southeastern United States, and that manufacturing and delivery costs,
rather than local incentives, would most influence its decision.
The Wall Street Journal said that Volvo was concentrating its search
on the Interstate 85 corridor, which links cities such as Greensboro, Charlotte
BMW and Mercedes-Benz have built auto plants in the Southeast.
North Carolina economic development officials have been asked to submit
site descriptions to an unidentified consultant, said Marc Bush, economic
developer for the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce.
While the officials were never told who the consultant was working for,
Bush said, the request related to a 1,000-acre project that was ''rumored
to be automotive related.''
In 1993, Mercedes-Benz looked at a 1,000-acre site in Mebane for its
first U.S. auto plant, but the company opted to build in Alabama. ''Because
of the publicity associated with the Mercedes search, you could assume that
the (Mebane) site is on the top of many priority lists,'' Bush said. Volvo
would be following in the tracks of German and Japanese carmakers, which
have been attracted to the United States by the relatively weak dollar,
cheaper labor costs and the sales appeal of cars that are technically American-made.
Volvo's comments were in response to a report Wednesday in the Wall Street
Journal that the carmaker is studying whether to build passenger cars and
sport utility vehicles in North America and is talking with other companies
about a joint project.
''We are looking at different alternatives. ... There have been rumors
for quite some time'' about a U.S. plant, spokesman Mats Edenborg told The
Associated Press. ''Nothing new has happened. We don't have any news to
In November, Volvo chief executive Soeren Gyll confirmed that ideas for
a U.S. operation were ''on the table'' but emphasized a move probably would
be made only in conjunction with the launch of a new vehicle.
Edenborg declined to disclose possible sites. He said Volvo has ''had
a lot of offers from local governments,'' but emphasized any ''decision
would depend on other factors,'' such as proximity to suppliers.
In addition to the German expansion in the United States, Japanese automakers
Toyota and Honda have announced plans to increase production at their North
Volvo already has operations - either wholly owned assembly plants or
joint ventures - in many foreign countries. Besides the United States, it
has been looking at China for future expansion, Edenborg said.
Volvo has held talks with Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp. about a possible
North American venture, the newspaper report said, citing people close to
the negotiations. The companies work together in the Netherlands.
Volvo GM Heavy Truck Corp., a joint venture that is 87 percent owned
by Volvo, already has plants in Dublin, Va., and Orrville, Ohio. In 1994,
sales totaled 23,729 medium- and heavy-duty trucks, for a 6.7 percent U.S.
market share, according to Ward's Automotive Yearbook.
Used with permission.
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Copyright ©1996, Greensboro News & Record.
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