China is poised to replace the US as Volvo Car Group’s (Volvo Cars) largest market in 2014 with sales of at least 80,000 cars, up from 61,146 in 2013, the company said. Sales in the US in 2014 are expected to increase in line with the broader market.
The emergence of China as Volvo Cars’ leading market represents an important step towards the company’s long term goal of selling 800,000 cars a year; this would break a 20-year cycle during which it has consistently sold around 400,000 cars a year.
The premium segment of the car market in China is forecast to grow by 20% this year. Volvo Cars expects to outpace this growth, indicating it is gaining market share from its competitors. Volvo Cars’ confidence is borne out by first quarter sales figures for the China market, which reveal sales rose 25.4% compared to the first quarter of 2013, to 17,286 cars.
During the first quarter, the Volvo XC60 SUV was the best-selling model, followed by the S60L long wheelbase sedan and V40 hatchback. The sales start of the V40 Cross Country as well as an ongoing expansion of the dealer network will further support Volvo Cars’ continued growth in China.
At the Beijing Motor Show, Volvo Cars also officially introduced the Volvo S60L Petrol Plug-in Hybrid (PPHEV) (earlier post), underlining its commitment to bringing electrification technology to China.
The S60L PPHEV features the same electrification technology as the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid, the world’s first diesel plug-in hybrid, which has been successful in Europe.
The S60L Petrol Plug-in Hybrid will be launched in China early 2015. The car will be built in the Chengdu plant, which already now produces the gasoline-powered Volvo S60L.
The first car to be assembled in the Daqing plant in northeastern China will be the Volvo XC Classic, a locally-built variant of the current Volvo XC90, production of which in the Torslanda plant in Sweden will cease this summer. The XC Classic will be sold solely in the Chinese market after its launch later this year. Other models to be built in the Daqing plant will be confirmed at a later stage.