Volvo Cars, the Swedish division of Ford Motor Co, expects the fast-growing Chinese car market to contribute significantly to its global sales growth in the coming years.
Fredrik Arp, chief executive officer of the Goteborg-based premium car producer, said on Friday in Beijing that China is the "most exciting" car market in the world for Volvo and the company's growth in the nation is a vital part of its global aim to sell 600,000 vehicles a year by 2009.
"In the next five to 10 years, we believe that China will move up to second place in Volvo Cars' sales chart," Arp said.
Volvo, known for its industry-leading safety innovations, sold almost 444,000 vehicles last year worldwide. Its 2005 sales in China stood at 5,000 units.
Volvo in July started China production of its S40 compact sedan at Ford's joint venture with Japan's Mazda Motor and China's Chang'an Motor in Chongqing Municipality under a technical licensing deal. Arp said this is "a big step" towards Volvo's China sales growth strategy.
Volvo Cars China said the company's sales in the nation are expected to reach 9,000 vehicles this year, surging 80 per cent from 2005.
The company aims to increase China sales in 2007 at a rate of at least that anticipated this year, Volvo Cars China said.
Besides the locally made S40, Volvo's products available in China include the imported XC90 sport utility vehicle and all-new S80 large-sized sedan. The XC90 and S80 account for more than half of Volvo's China sales this year, according to Arp.
Volvo Cars China said the company will introduce its newly-developed C30 compact sports car and C70 wagon into China as imports next year to boost its brand competitiveness and sales. Volvo now has 46 dealers in 45 Chinese cities, it said.
Analysts said premium cars in China have huge growth potential as they currently represent a tiny proportion of the nation's total car market and the wealthy population is expanding rapidly here.
Industry data shows premium cars now account for less than 4 per cent of the overall Chinese car market, which is forecast to grow to 3.8 million units this year from 3.3 million units in 2005.
China's premium car segment is mainly controlled by German brand Audi which began to produce cars locally more than 10 years ago.
(China Daily November 18, 2006)