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Swedish divorcee seeks a wealthy mate

Volvo is openly hawking partners to take it to the next stage.

And before you reply, understand that this Swede is big on playing with steel and engines - kinky! For the first time, Volvo is openly hawking partners to take it to the next stage and inject capital to ensure it remains a stand-alone business.

Volvo product planner Lex Kerssemakers says the company's owner, the Chinese conglomerate Geely, wants Volvo to be a stand-alone operation "so we can fund our future and continue making new products''.

"We aren't in a hurry. We can live without an alliance for a few years yet because we have the C-platform of the V40 to work on," he says, adding however: "Volvo won't renew our technical partnership with Ford.''

That means the end of a partnership with Ford - who until two years ago owned Volvo - and created the S40, V50, S60 and other models that shared platforms, components and drivetrains with Ford.

The Ford Focus, for example, shares the platform with the S40 and V50 while the S60 is on the same base as the Ford Mondeo.

Engines and transmissions are also common, with Volvo sharing Ford's six-speed dual-clutch automatic and the turbocharged four-cylinder engines including the 2-litre EcoBoost now in the Ford Falcon.

"We have to have alliances,''Kerssemakers says. "We're talking to some companies and we may look to share engines in the future with a partner. "Anyone who makes a C-platform (Focus size) is a possible partner.'' 

But though the relationship with Ford has ended, Kerssemakers says that doesn't mean it wouldn't forge another deal. "We're very happy with Ford - always have been,'' he says. 

"We could make an alliance with them work. You can't rule anything out today - everyone is talking to everyone else - just look at the PSA Peugeot and General Motors alliance.'' 

On the flip side, Kerssemakers says Volvo has a lot to offer in a relationship. "We are one to two years ahead of the game when it comes to plug-in technology,'' he says. "We can share that, depending on price. Were also talking electrification and safety with China. 

"We are a bit ahead of China. They look to us. But China is good at low-cost platforms and we could use that. There's nothing wrong with their quality.'' 

Kerssemakers says plug-in hybrid technology was "very, very expensive''. "It's only for diesels at the moment but we see huge benefits because it offers the best of two worlds - performance and economy. "It's ideal for a partnership.''