Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Ford sold Volvo to Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Limited in 2010. Just two years later, Geely announced an $11-billion investment in the Swedish carmaker, its charismatic fugleman Li Shifu saying, "We want to revive Volvo and give the brand its strength back." Two years later, after having introduced the Concept XC Coupe at the Detroit Auto Show this week, Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson (above, second from right) declared the company profitable again after a solid 2013 and predicted a positive 2014.
Intending to break even on operating profit in 2013, Volvo exceeded expectations and landed on the plus side due to a mix of factors. US sales declined 10.1 percent for the year to 61,233, that number still making us Volvo's largest market, but Chinese sales were up nearly 46 percent to 61,146 units, and even its home market saw a bump of 0.8 percent; total sales for the year were 427,840, a margin of 1.4-percent over the previous year. Volvo was able to do more with the tiny gain and reverse its half-year operating loss because of a global cost restructuring and thorough revamp of its Chinese distribution network. An announcement of 2013's financial results will come in March.
Bullishness on 2014 comes from the company's intention to focus on its two biggest markets with new models, new technology and more spending. The first product of an independent Volvo, the new XC90, will be revealed later this year on the new SPA architecture. On top of the Sensus Connect infotainment system, Volvo will add driver-aid systems like adaptive cruise control with steer assist and night-time pedestrian detection. It also has a new North American CEO and will spend more on marketing and communications here. In China it will begin to feel more effect from the two Chinese factories opened last year - it has three in the country - and, if need be, can take advantage of more advantageous exchange rates by exporting from China instead of the US. Said Samuelsson of what he expects in the US in 2014, "we will outperform the market."
Just because the penetration of the American automotive market by Chinese brands hasn't quite happened yet doesn't mean that Chinese-built cars are far off. According to a new report, we could very soon see long-wheelbase Volvo S60s that were assembled in the People's Republic arriving on US shores.
The report comes from Automotive News China, which cites an anonymous Volvo exec. An official Volvo spokesperson later corroborated ANC's report, although where the original source claimed that we could see the Chinese-built S60L in US dealers at some point in 2015, the company line was that a timeline hadn't been established to begin exports from the world's most populous nation.
According to Volvo, the benefit to exporting from China to the United States rather than from Sweden is the relationship between the US dollar and the Chinese yuan. Overall, it's a less tumultuous issue than the dollar-to-euro situation. By moving vehicles from China to the US, the Chinese-owned company is limiting the degree of risk it's taking with sudden currency swings.
The Nordic countries are known for their beautiful fjords, blonde-haired populace and bitter cold for a good portion of the year. The hours spent indoors during the dark, cold season apparently gives a lot of time for some crazy brainstorming. Tire store chain Vianor is highlighting the Traktor Terror in a new video. If Ken Block is the master of Gymkhana, then these guys know all about Farmkhana in their custom, turbocharged tractor.
According to the YouTube description from Vianor, the tractor is a 1956 Volvo BM Terrier with an added roll cage, adjustable front suspension and extended frame. The engine is thoroughly Swedish, and it's based on a Volvo 940 Turbo with a Volvo 240 head and Volvo 740 intercooler. However, it uses a Saab turbo Prospark ignition and fuel system. All told, the setup is claimed to make 225 horsepower and is capable of a top speed of 60 miles per hour.
That's not crazy power, but this tractor can certainly put it down. The farm machine has no problem smoking those big rear wheels and drifts easily.... although, it may be a tiny little bit unstable (hence the roll cage). If nothing else, this looks like the world's most fun way to be a farmer, that's for sure.