SHANGHAI -- Zhejiang Geely Holding plans to use a platform developed with Volvo to build new models in Malaysia for its partly owned Proton brand, a strategy that shows how it aims to accelerate a push to become China's first global auto giant.
The yet-to-be-finalized plans for Proton are just one strand of a Geely project to revamp factories at home and abroad using platforms it has been perfecting with Volvo since 2013. Geely bought the Swedish brand 10 years ago for $1.8 billion -- a deal that raised its international profile and sent shock waves through the global auto industry.
Volvo and Geely's Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) allows engineers to develop, design and build different types of compact cars with similar mechanical layout faster than before -- and at lower cost.
Models currently underpinned by CMA include the Volvo's XC40 compact SUV and the Polestar 2 full-electric sedan. Since 2017, more than 600,000 CMA-based vehicles have been sold globally, Volvo said last week.
Geely engineers told Reuters that CMA, along with a platform for smaller cars known as the B-segment Modular Architecture that Geely plans to roll out for Proton, allow them to harness the Swedish automaker's technologies and Geely's capabilities in cost control, supply chain management and local production.
"CMA will be the core of Geely's future architecture design. We learn technologies and build up talents through developing it," said Li Li, vice president at the Geely Automobile Research Institute, confirming the Proton plan during an interview in Ningbo, south of Shanghai. Li declined to disclose details of general investment, financial targets or a timetable for expansion plans.
From its lowly foundation in 1986 in Taizhou on the east coast as a maker of refrigerator parts, Geely has grown into one of the biggest automakers in China, the world's largest auto market accounting for nearly one in every three passenger cars sold around the planet. Geely now sells more than 2 million cars a year across all brands, ranking it not far from the world's top 10 automakers by unit sales.
The CMA platform in particular allows Geely and Volvo to design vehicles more quickly and cost-effectively, Li said, providing a technological springboard to gain scale and market share at a time when the auto industry must embrace a future featuring electric and autonomously driven transport.