I was a broken record. For years, I said that it would be impossible for Chinese carmakers to crack into the US market, following the example of the Japanese and the South Koreans.
I had good justification for this extreme view: there's no room.
Simply put, there's was no market share to take in the US. And the old game of coming in with a great car in a segment that had been neglected or abjured — fuel-sipping Hondas in the 1970s, reliable family sedans in the 1980s, small SUVs in the 1990s, hybrid drivetrains in the 2000s — wasn't going to work.
Competing on price, as Hyundai and Kia had, wasn't really an option, either, as all the automakers selling cars in America had greatly improved their offerings on that front. You no longer needed to spend very much to get a lot of car.
Then in the midst of the financial crisis, Ford decided to streamline itself and shed its premium brands.
Geely makes its move
Among these were Volvo — the no-nonsense, yet romantic Swedish brand beloved by Los Angeles hipsters and hidebound preppies. A rare opportunity presented itself to international carmakers with aims to enter the US market.
Auto brands almost never go up for sale. More often, they fade away — or are swiftly executed. When Ford was selling Volvo, GM was also trying to unload Hummer, Saturn, and Saab.
Enter Geely, a major Chinese automaker that jumped at the chance to buy a luxury brand, paying almost $2 billion for it in 2010.
Since then, we've been waiting to see what a Chinese-built car from a Swedish brand would be like. When one finally landed on American shores, I was especially intrigued.
For now, the S60 sedan is the only Chinese-made car currently on sale in America, until the Buick Envision arrives later this year.
When we sampled a 2016 S60 Inscription "Platinum" late last year. Business Insider's Ben Zhang lent an assist, driving it in sporty fashion, while I used the car as a limo to chauffeur around a bunch of tweenage friends of my daughter for a weekend.
Here's what we thought:
The S60 has a pleasing, unobtrusive stance that says, "I'm new" without saying "I'm not a Volvo." The "Seashell Metallic" paint job also looked very much at home in the New Jersey suburbs in late autumn.
Solid, simple, dependable. All very Volvo, right down to the fuss-free grille and the familiar Volvo badge. But not stodgy, either. The S60 has a more-or-less contemporary appearance, far sleeker than the brick-like Volvos of yore.