4 million Volvo vehicles built in Ghent
On August 8, the four millionth vehicle built at the Volvo Car Corporation manufacturing facility in Ghent, Belgium left the production line. The sporty V50 R-design was ordered by a customer from Breda, Netherlands.
Volvo Cars has been building cars in Belgium since 1965. Initially, the plant was set-up to avoid the country's high import taxes on assembled vehicles, but over the years Volvo Cars Ghent has become one of the company's two main factories; the other main facility is the Torslanda plant in Göteborg, Sweden. Volvo Cars Ghent has more than 4,000 employees and built approximately 200,000 vehicles in 2007.
The first Volvo model assembled in Ghent was the Volvo 120, also known as the Amazon. The other models that followed included the 140 and 240 series, the 740, 940, 850, S70 and V70. Today, Ghent is the birthplace for the C30, S40, V50 and S60. In a few weeks, Volvo Cars will begin assembly of the new XC60 crossover in Ghent. The XC60 will launch in Canada in the first half of 2009.
The milestone of one million vehicles was reached in Ghent as recently as 1988; in 1997 the two million vehicle mark was passed and the third million was achieved seven years later.
The year 2008 seems to be a jubilee year for Volvo Cars. On February 20, the company built its 15 millionth vehicle, a Volvo C70, in the Uddevalla plant in Sweden. On June 16, the Torslanda plant assembled its six millionth vehicle - a V70 wagon - since its inauguration in 1964.
Production figures of Volvo Cars Ghent:
|Volvo XC60:||2008 start|
*The current generation V70 is not built in Ghent
Background facts about Volvo vehicle production
The first vehicle to wear the Volvo iron mark logo, the ÖV4, left the Swedish factory gates on April 14, 1927. Until the year 1964, production volumes were modest. It took the company 23 years, from 1927 to 1950, to build its first 100,000 vehicles. Throughout the 1950s, however, there was considerable growth, with production boosted from approximately 10,000 vehicles a year to more than 80,000.
The upswing of the 1950s was the impetus for a range of important decisions Volvo executives had to make on corporate expansion. One of the most critical was to build an entirely new, fully comprehensive production plant in Torslanda, 15 kilometres from central Göteborg. The decision to begin construction for a new factory was made in the autumn of 1959 with work beginning shortly thereafter.
In 1961, the plant began producing the frames and bodies for the Volvo P120 (Amazon). In 1962, a paint shop was commissioned. It wasn't until April 24, 1964, that the Torslanda facility was inaugurated and became fully operational. In full two-shift operation, there was sufficient capacity to produce 200,000 cars a year.
But that was not enough. In 1965, the factory in Ghent, Belgium was inaugurated and was able to produce up to 14,000 vehicles per year.
Ever since, the Torslanda and Ghent factories have become the main production plants of the Volvo Car Corporation. The assembly plant in Ghent was expanded in 1972 with a body assembly facility and paint shop. The factory's capacity also has been gradually expanded and today can build up to 250,000 vehicles per year.
When the two sister factories opened in the 1960s, the Volvo P120 series (Amazon) stood as the company's most important model. It was later followed by the Volvo 140/160 and the faithful 240 which entered production in 1974 and continued until May 1993. Other models built in Ghent and Torslanda were the 740, 850, 940 and 960, as well as the first generations of the V70, XC70 and S80. At present, Torslanda's production focuses on the company's larger models (the XC90, XC70, V70 and S80) while the smaller models (the C30, S40, V50, S60 and the latest addition, the XC60) are all built in Ghent.
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