Volvo's factory in Ridgeville, South Carolina, near Charleston, is now exporting cars to Europe. The plant began building the Volvo S60 sedan six months ago and has now started shipping them to Belgium for distribution among Volvo's European dealers, the automaker said Wednesday.
The factory will export the newnot just to Europe but also, eventually, Turkey, Australia, the Middle East, Africa and some parts of Asia. All told, Volvo expects that 50 percent of the 50,000 cars to be built in the Ridgeville plant this year will be exported elsewhere.
"Export markets are critical to the long-term success of our plant," Jeff Moore, vice president for Volvo manufacturing, Americas, said in a statement.
One place the S60 won't be exported? China. In November, that trade tariffs meant that the company wouldn't ship the S60 from the US to China, and that likewise the automaker would stop bringing XC60 crossovers and would "reduce" the number of S90 sedans it imported from China to America.
Volvo has plenty more plans for the South Carolina factory, with the next-generation XC90 crossover expected to be built there from 2022. All told, the plant will be able to build 150,000 vehicles annually. The 2.3 million square-foot facility has a body shop, paint shop and final assembly location, and currently employs 1,500 people.
As Volvo's first and only US car plant, the facility is to play a key role as Volvo seeks to build cars in all its major markets: Europe, the US and China. Volvo invested around $1.1 billion to open the plant, which started mass production in September 2018.