Volvo Cars has inaugurated its first US manufacturing plant in Charleston, South Carolina. The new factory follows Volvo’s ‘Build where you sell’ strategy and complements its two manufacturing plants and an engine plant in Europe, three car factories and an engine plant in China, and assembly plants in India and Malaysia.

The Charleston plant starts production of the just-unveiled Volvo S60, which is based on the company’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, this autumn. From 2021, the US factory will also build the next generation Volvo XC90 SUV. Cars built at the plant are destined both for the domestic US market and exports.

“The Charleston plant establishes the US as our third home market. The saloon segment and the SPA platform’s proven ability to boost profitability offer significant growth opportunities for Volvo Cars in the US and globally,” said Hakan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars.

Volvo is investing around US$1.1 billion (RM4.4 billion) in its US manufacturing operations and will create around 4,000 new jobs at the Charleston site over the coming years. Approximately 1,500 staff will be employed by the end of this year.

The facility includes an office building for up to 300 staff from R&D, purchasing, quality and sales. The plant can produce 150,000 cars per year at full capacity. The site occupies 1,600 acres and the building space covers 2.3 million square feet. Construction started in 2015.

The new S60, which looks like a smaller and sportier version of the S90, is the first Volvo not to be offered with a diesel engine, which means it’s petrol or hybrid only. All four powertrains feature a 2.0 litre Drive-E engine and an Aisin eight-speed auto. The turbocharged T5 makes 254 hp/350 Nm, the twincharged T6 AWD does 310 hp/400 Nm and the T6 Twin Engine AWD hybrid produces 340 hp/590 Nm.

The S60 T8 Twin Engine AWD with 390 hp/640 Nm can be enhanced to deliver 405 hp/670 Nm with the optional Polestar Engineered upgrade exclusive to the range topping T8. The Polestar pack also brings new wheels, upgraded brakes and suspension, plus a revised ECU.

As with most Volvo models, one can choose from Momentum, Inscription and R-Design trim packages. The new S60 will also be available via the brand’s Care by Volvo subscription service, where customers pay a flat monthly fee that covers insurance and maintenance. Click here for more on the new S60.

GALLERY: 2019 Volvo S60 R-Design