CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) -- Volvo aims to rebuild the brand's U.S. sales to 100,000 vehicles a year "as soon as possible," with help from a factory the company plans to open in 2018, its head of North American operations said.
Lex Kerssemakers, CEO of Volvo Cars of North America, said the automaker intends to quickly boost its U.S. annual sales from about 57,000 currently.
"Our dealers have been longing for cars and for sales for so many years," Kerssemakers said on Thursday at an event formalizing the company's agreement to build the new factory in South Carolina.
China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group bought Volvo from Ford Motor in 2010. Since the change of ownership Volvo has missed out on the revival of U.S. auto sales. In 2004, Volvo sold 140,000 cars in the United States.
Volvo's effort to rebuild U.S. sales will hinge on the factory. Construction is expected to start this summer or autumn with the help of more than $200 million in tax breaks and other incentives from state and local governments and other entities.
The vehicle produced in South Carolina will be a Volvo product, officials said, although it could one day build a Geely branded car as well. The company is developing plans with Geely in Sweden for a platform for smaller cars, Kerssemakers said.
Volvo's plant will be built about 48km (30 miles) from the port of Charleston. The first car will roll out in 2018, officials said.
South Carolina provided Volvo with $150 million in infrastructure and other economic incentives, the state's Secretary of Commerce, Bobby Hitt, told Reuters. Volvo could get another $12 million in incentives from Berkeley County and up to $55 million in incentives from Santee Cooper power, officials said.
Volvo has not said which vehicles will be built at the South Carolina plant but has said they will be based on Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture. The first vehicle to use the new architecture is the redesigned full-size XC90 crossover due for delivery to U.S. customers next month. The new architecture will underpin Volvo’s larger vehicles, including the range-topping S90 sedan that will replace the S80, a V90 wagon and replacements for the XC60 crossover and S60 sedan.
The replacement for the V40 and other compact cars will use Volvo's new compact modular architecture. It is being developed jointly with Geely. The V40 replacement is due in three years.
Volvo said the new factory is part of an ambitious medium term expansion plan to double global sales, boost market share and lift profitability.
Volvo plans to offer a Chinese-made sedan in the United States, the Volvo S60 Inscription sedan, starting this summer, Volvo spokesman Dean Shaw said. Only 2,000 2015 models will be sold in the U.S. with maybe more to follow in 2016, another Volvo spokesman, Jim Nichols, said.
Diana T. Kurylko and Bloomberg contributed to this report