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Volvo Cars (Sweden) boosts e-car production in Flanders

In 2021, Volvo Cars will significantly increase its capacity to build electric vehicles. The decision of the Swedish car manufacturer – which operates under the wings of Geely Holding (China) – is a boost for its assembly plant in Ghent (Flanders), which employs 6,500 people and where 194,890 cars rolled off the assembly line in 2020.

E-mobility forerunner

Volvo Cars is strongly committed to electric mobility, developing and producing hybrid and all-electric cars. In 2020, the company doubled its e-vehicle sales, which today already accounts for 29% of Volvo’s total sales in Europe and which is projected to represent half of the company’s worldwide sales by 2025.

Volvo’s Ghent assembly plant is a forerunner in e-mobility. In spring 2020, a new factory was commissioned to assemble the electric batteries for its own cars. In autumn 2020, the first fully electric XC40 Recharge rolled off the assembly line.

car production runs very smoothly; we have even been able to produce more fully electric cars than planned.

Stefan Fesser
director of Volvo Car Gent

In 2021, the factory is preparing for a second all-electric model. Details will only be unveiled in March, but the model will be based on the same compact modular architecture (CMA) platform as the electric XC40 and will come into production in the second half of the year.

A manufacturer with ambition

“Electrification is a very significant adaptation. We need all our people to adapt our production,” says Stefan Fesser, director of Volvo Car Gent. “By 2022, our capacity for electric cars – hybrid and all-electric – will reach 60% of our total production level. In 2020, 35% of the cars produced at our Ghent site were electric.” Meanwhile, the stronger focus on electric models will also lead to an increase in employment at the site. “An additional 300 employees will be required across our entire factory, from bodywork to assembly,” says Stefan Fesser.

Will production once again rise to 250,000 units a year? “We don’t have a crystal ball and we don’t want to speculate on figures. But you can see from our investments that we are ambitious and that there is also a clear market demand,” Stefan Fesser concludes. “Production runs in three shifts, five days a week. We don’t anticipate any major interruptions in the near future. We need to produce every day.”

Knowledge center

Thanks to the expansion at Volvo Car Gent, Belgium and its northern region of Flanders are more than ever becoming a knowledge center for e-mobility. German premium brand Audi, for instance, has produced its first electric model, the SUV e-tron, in Vorst since 2018. More recently, the factory also began producing the Sportback version of the e-tron. In addition, Volvo Trucks chose Ghent (Flanders) as the production site for its EU e-truck battery hub.

But it doesn’t end there. Various other foreign companies have been investing in Flanders’ e-mobility scene. These include International Car Operators (ICO), a Japanese firm that helped turn the Port of Zeebrugge into an e-car hub, and AGP, a Latin American manufacturer that built its European eGlass 2.0 center in Ghent.

Even more, Flanders-based start-up Magnax recently developed a new electric motor that delivers three to four times the power of best-in-class e-car engines. The company aims to start assembling in 2022.

More info

Volvo Car Gent
Reported by
De Tijd newspaper
13 January 2021

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