Volvo is the most recent car company to begin assembling its vehicles in the US. On Sept. 6, 2018, the Swedish automaker rolled its first S60 sedan out of a new factory in Ridgeville, South Carolina, roughly 30 miles northwest of Charleston. The 2.3 million square-foot facility, Volvo’s first assembly plant in North America, will eventually turn out 150,000 vehicles per year, after the next-generation 2021 XC90 SUV comes online. Right now, though, the plant is operating at about one-third of capacity, which gives Volvo some wiggle room to invite members of the media like me — with absolutely zero auto-manufacturing experience — onto an active production line to help assemble a car. That makes me one of only a few people outside of Volvo to get this level of access. I hope I don’t mess anything up. Pre-assembly jitters This isn’t my first tour of an automobile factory, but today is different. This time, as I amble along the wide aisles tracing through Volvo’s fresh factory floors, I’m more excited than usual, but also nervous as I contemplate what’s at stake. After shelling out for a home, a new car is typically a consumer’s second-largest expense. This is important. By the end of this particular production day, Volvo has plans to roll 216 finished S60 sedans off the line. Suddenly, that target becomes a little more difficult as an instrumental rendition of Van Halen’s “Jump” erupts from a nearby assembly station. Someone has pulled the Andon Cord that runs… [Read full story]
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