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Volvo cars said to double US plant investment to US$1b

[MICHIGAN] Volvo Cars is so eager for growth, it's planning to expand its first US factory - and it hasn't even finished building it yet.

The Chinese-owned Swedish automaker is set to double the investment in its assembly plant near Charleston, South Carolina, to a total of US$1 billion, said a person familiar with the plans. The added spending will support an additional 1,900 jobs in addition to the 2,000 originally planned, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private.

Russell Datz, spokesman for Volvo Cars USA, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Volvo is rapidly expanding its product lineup and manufacturing base as it aims for 800,000 global light-vehicle sales by 2020 - 50 per cent more than last year's record total. Global sales through August this year rose 8.7 per cent to 359,798, even as US deliveries slipped 7.3 per cent - a shortfall that the automaker said will be made up by the end of the year.

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Since Li Shufu's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co bought the company from Ford Motor Co in 2010, Volvo has been moving quickly to adapt to changes in the industry. Long known for passenger safety, it's become a leader in driver-assistance systems and autonomous-vehicle development. In July, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based automaker committed to eventually converting its lineup to all hybrid or electric powertrains.

The increased investment in the US will go toward building a second production line, according to The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, which reported on the plan for increased investment Monday. Adding a second line won't delay the start of S60 sedan production late next year, the newspaper said.

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