The Volvo news, coming as uncertainty looms about General Motor’s decision to shut down Saab, also raised questions as to the future of Sweden’s auto industry.
Some of Sweden’s major newspapers wondered if Chinese ownership would weaken the Volvo brand. “Volvo: Money can’t buy everything,” read an editorial in Dagens Nyheter newspaper. “In mass-production China, there is a risk that the trademark will hollow out.”
Summing up opposition to the deal, TT news agency wrote: “The objections above all had to do with (Geely’s) ownership structure and financing.”
Ford on Wednesday announced it had agreed the main terms for the sale of Volvo to Geely – a former refrigerator parts maker that is now one of China’s largest carmakers – and said the deal would be finalised early next year.
Dagens Nyheter’s auto industry reporter wrote in an analysis piece this week that Geely’s takeover was “a journey into the unknown.”
“A little Chinese company that started manufacturing cars only 10 years ago is to assure Volvo’s future,” Lasse Swärd said, warning that Geely lacked the experience of “developing, building and selling cars on the world market.”
Others speculated about the demise of the Swedish auto industry in light of the Volvo sale and the Saab closure. “Both Swedish carmakers Saab and Volvo are on their way out of Sweden. Saab risks being shut down and everything points to Volvo becoming Chinese,” public radio reporter Tommy Fredriksson said earlier.
“What’s going to happen to Swedes’ self-image?” he asked, calling Volvo and Saab modern-day examples of traditional “Swedish value.”