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Developing Economies

Volvo: Now Part Of A Chinese Car Company

Here's a lot about the recent history of the global car business, boiled down into a few sentences:

Ford paid $6.45 billion for Volvo in 1999. This weekend, Ford sold Volvo for $1.8 billion to a Chinese car company called Geely (motto: "Beyond Value").

As big auto makers in Europe and the U.S. have collapsed over the past decade, China has grown into the largest car market in the world. Volvo is the first big global auto brand to be purchased by a Chinese company.

Geely "intends to preserve Volvo Cars' existing manufacturing facilities in Sweden and Belgium," but may also build Volvos in new Chinese factories for sale in China, the company said in a statement. Volvo has been losing money, and building a Chinese market for the brand could help return it to profitability, an analyst told Reuters.

For Ford, the sale was part of a process of is paring its business down and paying off more than $20 billion in debt. Ford sold Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata Motors, a big Indian company, back in 2008, Time notes.

Auto Bonus: Listen to yesterday's This American Life, which told the story of a doomed joint venture between General Motors and Toyota.