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Automotive News – March 30, 2010

Chinese Company Buys Volvo from Ford for $1.8 Billion

Volvo LogoChina’s largest private auto company, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, has agreed to buy Sweden’s Volvo from the Ford Motor Company for $1.8 billion. Volvo has been a division of Ford since 1999, when it purchased the company for $6.5 billion. A spokesperson for Geely said that it intends to keep Volvo’s manufacturing activities in Europe to keep it close to suppliers.

In 2009, China became the world’s largest auto market, with sales surging 46 percent to a total 13.6 million units. China has long wanted to enter Western markets, but has so far lacked the brand recognition to do so. Many industry insiders believe Geely purchased Volvo as the first step in establishing a strong Chinese automobile presence in both Europe and the United States.

Chrysler to Test Fleet of Plug-in Hybrid Trucks

Chrysler has announced it will build a fleet of 140 Ram pick-up trucks using a new plug-in hybrid technology for testing in markets across the United States. The three-year-old “demonstration project” is expected to cost approximately $48 million and is being financed by a grant from the federal Department of Energy (DOE).

The automaker says the trucks will be based on the Ram 1500 4×4 and will use a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 paired with a two-mode transmission and a 12-k Wh lithium-ion battery from Electrovaya. This is expected to increase the pickup’s average mileage to about 25 mpg, a gain of about 65 percent. Users are expected to include local utility companies, universities and government agencies throughout the United States.

Mazda Looks to Toyota, Not Ford, for Hybrid Technology

Mazda Motor Corp. has announced it will lease hybrid drivetrain technology from fellow Japanese auto manufacturer Toyota. This is despite Mazda’s long-standing partnership with Ford Motor Co., which currently owns 13 percent of Mazda. The agreement allows Mazda to use the same powertrain found in the third-general Toyota Prius, the most popular hybrid car in the world.

Mazda has already begun development of a new high-efficiency gasoline engine called the Sky G, which it plans to combine with the Toyota hybrid drivetrain. Mazda’s hybrid is expected to debut in 2013, but only in Japan. A Mazda spokesman said that eventual migration to the U.S. market is also being considered.

GM Unveils ‘EN-V’ Concept Car in China

GM’s EN-VGeneral Motors and its Chinese partner SAIC have unveiled their futuristic “Electric Networked Vehicle,” or “EN-V,” at the Shanghai Expo in China. The trunkless, two-person “pod car” is an all-electric vehicle designed to operate with zero emissions in crowded urban environments. One of its many high-tech features is a computerized, satellite-based networking system that links it to similar vehicles in the vicinity, allowing each EN-V to find the fastest possible route to its destination while avoiding collisions.

GM hopes to have its EN-V in the Chinese market within 10 to 20 years.

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