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Volvo to hire 1200 in Europe, boost plant capacity

Press conference: Stefan Jacoby (left), Paul Welander (middle) and Björn Sällström in front of a Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid.

Volvo embarks on big recruitment drive to turn out eco models as global sales rise

31 Mar 2011

VOLVO Car Corporation has announced plans to recruit up to 1200 new employees, mostly in research and development, and to expand its European production capacity over the next 12 months to achieve its “aggressive product plan for the future”.

As Jaguar Land Rover owner Tata Motors revealed its intention to hire 100 engineers at its European technical centre in England by 2013, Volvo said it planned to double its Swedish R&D workforce with 1000 new recruits and would hire a further 200 people to work at its manufacturing plant in Ghent, Belgium, as demand increased for its new models.

In particular, Volvo highlighted the need for “new competence in the field of electrification”, to bring its burgeoning range of plug-in hybrids and other eco cars to market under new owner, China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co, which bought the Swedish brand from Ford last year for $US1.8 billion.

The first of these will be the V60 diesel-electric plug-in hybrid wagon, which enters volume production next year and combines a 150kW version of Volvo’s familiar D5 five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine and six-speed automatic transmission with a 50kW electric motor and 12kWh lithium-ion battery.

Volvo claims the electrified V60 – the conventional version of which was launched in Australia this week – offers a pure electric driving range of up to 50km, can achieve fuel economy and CO2 emissions as low as 1.9L/100km and 49g/km respectively, and offers strong 0-100km/h acceleration of 6.9 seconds.

 center imageLeft: Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid. Below: Tata Indica Vista EV.

Battery recharging is said to take from three hours to 7.5 hours, depending on the available power outlet (6, 10 or 16 amp).

As GoAuto has reported, Volvo also has the all-electric C30 DRIVe Electric car in small-scale production for field testing in a number of countries, although Australia remains off the agenda with this model for now.

Volvo Car Corporation president and CEO Stefan Jacoby this week said: “We need to expand our operations to enable development of the highly competitive and fuel-efficient products and technologies which are part of our growth plan.”

Mr Jacoby said sales in Europe and North America were strong so far this year – volume was up 16.2 per cent in Australia for the first two months – and that further growth is expected. The company has increased line speed at its Torslanda plant in Gothenburg, Sweden, to meet increased demand, and also expects the Ghent plant to reach record levels of production volume during 2011.

Last year, Volvo sold around 373,000 vehicles worldwide, but aims to boost that to 800,000 by 2020.

Volvo’s senior vice-president of human resources Bjorn Sallstrom described the new employee program as one of the biggest recruitment drives the company has ever has carried out.

“The new engineers are needed to develop the technologies and car models which are part of the aggressive product plan that our board and executive management team has developed,” he said.

In other Volvo personnel news, AB Volvo’s board of directors has named the president of Volvo Construction Equipment, Olof Persson, as the incoming president and CEO of the Volvo Group, replacing Leif Johansson who is retiring.

Mr Persson will assume the role of executive vice-president and deputy CEO on May 1, working alongside Mr Johansson until his retirement takes effect on September 1.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Tata Motors this week said that the 100 new recruits for its R&D centre, based at the University of Warwick, near Coventry, would add to the team of 240 engineers and researchers currently employed.

They will focus on ‘low carbon technology’ such as the Vista electric vehicle which will be built at a factory in Coventry and become available to fleet customers in the UK later this year.

The centre also developed Tata’s Nano-based Pixel City Car, which was recently unveiled at the Geneva motor show.

Tata Motors’ head of advanced and product engineering Tim Leverton said: “Today’s announcement represents a further demonstration of Tata’s long-term commitment to build and develop R&D facilities here in the UK.”

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