In the 1990 movie Crazy People actor Dudley Moore plays an ad executive who has a nervous breakdown. He then comes up with a series of “truthful” advertising campaigns, which turn out to be surprise hits. One of these is for Volvo, and carries the tagline: “They’re boxy, but they’re good”. Not too flattering but it pretty much summed up the way that many Americans regarded the Swedish tank-like cars in the nineties.
But what happens when the Volvo isn’t made in Sweden but in China instead? That is the issue that the carmaker will face when it begins selling its China-made S6OL in the US. Volvo’s CEO announced the move this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but as the Financial Times noted: “The question is whether US consumers are ready for vehicles made in China, which lacks a strong reputation in carmaking.” The FT reckons it will be the first time a mainstream carmaker has attempted to sell a Made in China vehicle to Americans (Moore’s character would probably have come up with the slogan: “You thought it was Swedish, but it’s actually Chinese”). Volvo’s Chengdu factory can make 120,000 of the S6OL cars a year, although the jury is out on how many will be exported to the US.
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