Geely means lucky and it is for Volvo, LEVC and Lotus – #BCGDaily 31032020
March 28th this year (2020) saw the 10th anniversary of Geely’s acquisition of storied Swedish car maker, Volvo. It bought the brand from Ford in 2010 for $1.8bn. The Chinese firm Geely, which itself was established in 1986 and only got into Automotive towards the end of the last century in 1997, then left Volvo to get on and do what it does best – build amazingly practical, solid and safe automobiles.
Any concern of a Chinese company buying out one of Europe’s most acclaimed brands was dismissed when Volvo launched the all-new replacement for its flagship SUV, the XC90 in 2014. I reviewed the car (link below) and was blown away by the quality, attention to detail and astonishing driveability of the 2.0-litre twincharged (supercharged and turbocharged) engine.
The XC60, S90 and others followed, all even better than the last. I haven’t reviewed the new XC40 yet, but I expect it to be nothing less than brilliant. Geely means lucky, and it’s certainly proved so for Volvo. In 2011 it had 21,500 employees and produced 450,000 cars in two factories in Europe. It now also has a plant in America and four more in China which are already up and running, whilst the rest of the world is in lockdown. So by contrast, Volvo now has 43,000 employees and produced over 705,000 cars in 2019, achieving a profit of nine times what it made in 2011.
Of course Geely has been busy and shopping elsewhere in the industry too. It took a 10% stake in Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) in 2018, and bought the London Taxi Corporation in 2013 – they invested over a quarter of a billion pounds in a new factory for that, renamed it the London Electric Vehicle Company (though the factory is in Coventry) and created a brilliant new range-extender hybrid electric ‘London taxi’ that is the best that’s ever been. It’s now being exported around the world and is also available as a van. My review below.
In 2017 I reviewed the Geely Emgrand X7 Sport (link below). That year I had reviewed a number of Chinese cars for the first time and had certainly been impressed by how far they had come. However, the Emgrand X7 was in a class of its own as far as Chinese cars were concerned, it felt far better built and thought-out than any of its rivals, whilst still offering a high spec at a low price. It was the first Chinese family SUV I was truly happy to recommend. The Volvo influence was already apparent, and is probably even moreso now in Geely products.
Meanwhile it also bought Proton and hence Lotus in 2017 – or at least controlling stakes. It stands to gain a lot from the British company’s famed research and development abilities and its engineering expertise which it has been deploying behind the scenes for a number of marques helping them refine and perfect their products.
I am frankly delighted that my beloved brand Lotus is now owned by Geely purely on the evidence of what that’s meant for Volvo. Sure enough as early as last year, Lotus came up with a new brand flagship – the headline-grabbing standard-setting Evija full electric hypercar with 2000bhp and a similarly astronomical price tag.
But if that’s a little un-Lotus like, fear not, an all-new platform is on its way, and meantime there will be one last hurrah for the brilliant Elise/Evora platform with a new car out next year, which some suggest could even by badged Esprit. Since the original Esprit is my all-time favourite car, I can barely control my excitement and covered the topic in another video (below) – all I want them to do, is recreate the iconic original Esprit shape over the Evora – imagine that. I’d be lining up for it immediately!
Frankly as the unrelenting march of Geely continues, and as most of the global car industry finds itself in flux because of the coronavirus, it wouldn’t be entirely unfeasible to suggest that one day, pretty much most of us will be driving Geely products.
Volvo XC90 Review
Volvo S90 Review
Geely Emgrand X7 Sport Review
BDG Daily – could Lotus be making an Esprit?
Lotus Evora Sport 410 Review
Lotus Elise S
Lotus Esprit V8
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