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Geely Comes Out Gunning: Volvo to Offer 7 Series, S-Class Rival

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On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 9:48AM | By: Chris Weiss

Geely Comes Out Gunning: Volvo to Offer 7 Series, S-Class Rival

The ink has barely dried on the deal that sent Volvo from Ford to Chinese automaker Geely, but the latter is wasting no time in laying out big plans for its new brand. A top-ranking Geely official stated intentions of producing a Volvo-branded high-end luxury sedan to compete with top European offerings such as the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

In a press conference in London, Geely chief Li Shufu told the audience that he believes that Volvo has the technology and research capabilities needed to offer cars that can compete with (and fetch the prices of) other full-size premium models. Citing the aforementioned examples specifically, Shufu said: “At the moment we are competing with BMW, Audi and Mercedes, but we don’t have a product to compete with the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes S-class. We need to fill that gap."

These plans are still but a preference of Shufu and have yet to be approved by Volvo's board. The board's next meeting will take place in September. If approved, the new car will certainly be a far leap from some cars of Geely past, like the Marie Star.

According to Financial Times, Volvo was unable to move forward with a large luxury sedan during its tenure under Ford ownership because Ford held it back for fear of siphoning sales from Jaguar, another luxury brand it owned at the time. (Ford divested of Jaguar and Land Rover in 2008.)

Geely completed the $1.8 billion purchase of Volvo earlier this week. Ford sold the brand, along with previous overseas brands of Aston Martin, Jaguar, and Land Rover, in an attempt to focus inwards and streamline its portfolio. Ford will also be winding down its Mercury brand this year.

Geely has vowed to allow Volvo to continue autonomously, keeping plants and jobs in Sweden and Belgium. Geely does intend to grow the brand, however, seeking to expand sales to 600,000 (from 350,000 last year) within five years. Expanding into the Chinese market is seen as key toward this growth.

The new, Chinese-owned Volvo's first new market release will be the 2011 S60. The S60 is a sporty (and "naughty") four-door that will offer a 300-hp turbocharged six-cylinder engine. It includes such advanced options as Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Information System, and a City Safety System. The all-wheel-drive model will launch in the United States later this year for a base price of $37,700. Less powerful, less expensive variants are expected sometime after that.

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