Volvo Snapped up by Chinese

This isn’t exactly British car news, but Swedish car maker Volvo is heading into Chinese hands, after owner Ford announced that Geely is in pole position to buy the struggling manufacturer.

Following in the footsteps of MG Rover’s sale to Shanghai Automotive and Nanjing Automobile, the potential deal marks the latest move by a fast-expanding Chinese car maker to boost its presence in Europe.

Negotiations have been ongoing for some time, and it is understood Ford was only willing to enter into discussions once it had evaluated the firm’s Chinese operations. Now the green light has been given, the future of Volvo and the launch of promising upcoming models such as the S60 should be secure.

The move will also benefit Geely. Volvo’s research and development expertise and engineering skills will be a huge bonus, as its main interests are in improved quality and safety.

Geely is the largest privately owned car company in China, and has grown at an astonishing rate since making its first passenger car in August 1998. In 1999 it built 2,000 vehicles; in 2009 production should hit 300,000.

Whereas rival Chinese car makers tend to buy licenses and import technology, Geely has developed its own engines and is the only Chinese firm with its own automatic transmissions.