Volvo (VOLVB.OMX) plans to hire a team of Chinese designers so that its next vehicle meets local tastes, Bloomberg reported. Working at a research center being set up in Shanghai, the designers would contribute ideas to a premium compact model – to rival Audi’s A3 and BMW’s 1-Series – scheduled for release in 2012. Volvo was bought earlier this year by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, parent company of Geely Automobile (0175.HK), China’s largest independent carmaker. The Swedish company wants to double its sales in China to 800,000 units within a decade. Part of its strategy is to reposition Volvo as an upscale brand to take on BMW (BMW.FWB) and Volkswagen’s (VOW.FWB) Audi. However, there are no plans to follow the two German automakers’ lead and build China-specific models; rather, Volvo will introduce features for Chinese customers in general designs. The company may also build as many as three manufacturing plants in China.
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