With the inauguration of its new plant in South Carolina, Volvo now makes vehicles in the U.S., starting with the new S60 premium midsize sedan. The automaker plans to add production of the next-generation XC90 large crossover in 2021.
Volvo has invested $1.1 billion in the U.S. and the plant will be the sole global source of the S60—the first car Volvo has ever made in the U.S. Half the sedans built in the U.S. will be exported.
The S60 begins production this fall with a lineup that includes the front-drive T5 with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine good for 250 hp. The all-wheel-drive T6 offers a turbo- and supercharged 2.0-liter. There will be two plug-in hybrids, but the U.S. only gets the more powerful T8 Twin Engine AWD plug-in where the gas engine is both turbo- and supercharged for a combined 400 horsepower. We do not get the T6 Twin Engine AWD plug-in hybrid that gets a combined 340 hp. A mild hybrid with a 48-volt system is expected next year.
There will not be a diesel engine available with the S60 for any market in keeping with Volvo’s commitment to have all vehicles electrified starting in 2019 with a goal of 1 million pure EVs or 25 percent of sales by 2025.
Like its midsize counterparts, the V60 and XC60, the S60 rides on the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) and has many of the same features. That includes City Safety with Autobrake that brakes to avoid an oncoming collision and recognizes pedestrians, cyclists, and large animals. Optional Pilot Assist will steer, brake, and accelerate up to about 80 mph and has been upgraded to provide better cornering. Other safety systems include Run-off Road Mitigation, Oncoming Lane Mitigation, and other steering assistance systems as well as optional Cross Traffic Alert with Autobrake.
The S60 gets Volvo’s Sensus Connect infotainment system that can be seen across all its new cars and is compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and 4G. The large touchscreen has many menus with vehicle functions and connectivity.
For those who want to add more performance to their T8 plug-in, the Polestar electric performance division is offering Polestar Engineered which upgrades the wheels, brakes, suspension, and engine control unit, boosting combined horsepower to 415. Instead of 18-inch wheels, the Polestar boasts 19-inch wheels as well as Brembo brakes and Ohlins shock absorbers.
The S60 can be obtained through the Care by Volvo subscription service where there is no down payment, just a flat fee of $775 a month for 24 months, for those who don’t want to buy or lease. Care by Volvo was launched in November and is also available for the XC40 and V60.
T5 models start between $36,795 and $43,895, and T6 models will run from $41,295. The T8, only offered in R-Design and Inscription trims, will start between $55,395 and $56,395. Orders begin today for all S60 models other than the Polestar Engineered version, which will be available for order on June 28. Pricing for that model has not yet been announced, but Volvo says it will sell in limited quantities.
The new Volvo plant is located about 40 miles west of Charleston. The site decision was made back in 2014 in recognition of the importance of the North American market, and the automaker broke ground in 2015. During construction it was known as “Volvo Project Thor.” The idea of building in Mexico was briefly considered and quickly discarded by CEO Hakan Samuelsson.
Initially it will employ 2,000 workers—1,500 will be in place by the end of the year—who will make 60,000 S60s a year, half of them for export. The plant’s capacity is 150,000 vehicles a year with ample land and 2.3 million square feet of buildings. Volvo expects another 2,000 workers to join when it adds the XC90. The site includes the plant, test track, training center, and an office building for about 300 people who work in R&D, purchasing, quality, and sales. Stamping comes from supplier Gestamp.
The plant, which was just inaugurated, has begun making preproduction S60s with Job 1 of saleable sedans coming this fall. The current S60 is made in China and Ghent, Belgium. Production is being phased out of Ghent, but China will continue to make long-wheelbase versions of the S60 for that market.
South Carolina is also home to BMW in Spartanburg and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van plant.
In 2010 China’s Zhejiang Geely, owned by billionaire Li Shufu, bought Volvo from Ford for $1.5 billion and the automaker has flourished under the new ownership.
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