The first shipment of five Volvo PV444s arrived in Fort Worth, Texas in 1955. The first true dealer was an expat Swede, Nils Olof Sefeldt, whose only colleague those first few years was American businessman Leo Hirsch, who began selling Volvos on mail order. It must have been a tough sell but the brand started winning ground early on.

The one millionth Volvo sold in North America shipped in the early 1990s but plans for a stateside Volvo assembly plant had been discussed already in the mid 1970s — which would have made Volvo the first among European brands to set up a local factory.
It didn’t happen at the time, but 60 years after the first Volvos arrived to the first U.S. dealer, Volvo announced the location of its first U.S. factory. Volvo Cars chose South Carolina as the location for its first American plant, investing up to $500 million in a facility that will initially produce as many as 100,000 cars a year. The Berkeley County factory, located outside Charleston, will make latest generation Volvo models for sale in the United States and for export.
Construction will begin in autumn 2015, with the first vehicles expected to roll off the assembly line in 2018. Part of an ambitious expansion plan to double global sales, boost market share and lift profitability, the U.S. plant will make it possible to manufacture vehicles on three continents, underscoring Volvo Cars’ position as a global carmaker. It already operates two plants in Europe and two in China.
“This new global industrial footprint and a complete product renewal forms a foundation for our growth and profitability targets,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Car Corporation.
With the development of an American factory, the company crosses an important threshold from an automotive importer to a domestic manufacturer.
"We’re excited to build our first American factory in South Carolina and we look forward to helping grow the local community and economy,” said Lex Kerssemakers, president and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America. “We were impressed with the friendliness, work ethic and passion of the people in the Charleston area.”


A landmark moment
The decision to choose Berkeley County was made as a result of its easy access to international ports and infrastructure, a well-trained labor force, attractive investment environment and experience in the high tech manufacturing sector.
Volvo Cars estimates the factory will employ up to 2,000 people over the next decade and up to 4,000 people in the longer term. An economic impact analysis compiled by Dr. Frank Hefner at the College of Charleston estimates that, for an initial 2,000 direct jobs, more than 8,000 total jobs would be created. The plant would contribute approximately $4.8 billion in total economic output on an annual basis.
“This is a landmark moment and truly a great day in South Carolina as we welcome Volvo Cars’ first American manufacturing plant to our state,” said Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina. “Volvo’s presence and commitment to the community will be felt for decades to come. We are proud to have this global leader in car manufacturing join and strengthen South Carolina’s automotive industry.”

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