China-Euro Vehicle Technology (CEVT) R&D centre – the platform to cars couture

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Quayside, Lindholmen Science Park, Gothenburg.
Lindholmen Science Park is a part of the Norra Älvstranden region, located between the two bridges, Älvsborgsbron (Älvborgs Bridge) in the west and Götaälvbron (Göta River Bridge) in the east. The area has been important since the Viking Age and before, where the Göta river outlet acted as a trade center, uniting the prosperous inland regions and the sea.

Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2014

Situated in the collaborative environment for knowledge intensive companies at the Lindholmen Science Park in Gothenburg, the China-Euro Vehicle Technology (CEVT) R&D centre was established on 20 February 2013 as a joint Volvo Cars and Geely platform for advancing the partnership in product development and strategy between the two companies, owned by Geely Holding. Today it has about 200 resident engineers that will be increased according to plans, to 400. They are to focus on the innovations of the basic modular architecture platform for the next generation of leading C-segment cars, that includes hatchback, sedan and estate models.

The 22nd of January is just a few months short of ten years, when on 3 September 2004, the naming ceremony of the Swedish East Indiaman Götheborg was performed by Her Majesty Queen Silvia, at the Opera House at Lilla Bommen, just on the opposite side of the Göta river. The purpose of the Gotheborg III project was very long term, aimed at building upon old good relations bringing the two countries of Sweden and China once again closer to each other. It was an idea that took hold and to some extent might have contributed to the events leading up to this centre being located here and now.

What is currently in process between Volvo Cars and the Geely organization is groundbreaking in many ways. It is industrial and knowledge management history in the making. This has naturally attracted the attention of the Centre for International Business Studies (CIBS), headed by Professor Claes G. Alvstam at the School of Business, Economics and and Law at the University of Gothenburg, where I am affiliate, that has followed China’s entry into the global automobile industry with great interest.

It was thus an evolutionary progression of things that we today found ourselves visiting the CEVT R&D centre at Lindholmen.

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Designed by architect Gert Wingårdh, Kuggen, the striking and colourful building for innovation and entrepreneurship and a showcase for sustainable development was completed in 2011 is part of Campus Lindholmen. The University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology have established both independent and joint study and research units at Campus Lindholmen.

The modular architecture platform is innovative in the sense that it allows several different vehicle platforms to be developed from one single architecture. This means that vehicle dimensions, crash safety, engine suspension, comfort nd handling for example, can all be custom tailored and adapted to a specific market’s requirements to similar models of cars.

“Even if the wheelbase is maintained, the distance between the wheels and the bumper may vary in accordance with the style of the automobile. Or the size of the fuel tank may be different, but perhaps the supply nozzle may be the same.” – Mats Fägerhag [1], CEO of CEVT, Global Times, 16 Sept 2013.

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Lindholmen

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Professor Inge Ivarsson, VP (Europe) of the Euro-Asia Management Association (EAMSA), with Deputy CEO of CEVT Gang Wei, one of the Founders of Shanghai LTI Automobile Components (SLTI), Geely’s first international joint venture and part of Geely’s team in the Volvo Cars transaction.

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The London Room at CEVT, reflecting Geely’s London Taxi brand.

In the past years, Geely has prioritised heavily, their own talent education and R&D capacity where on average, the company invests approximately 10 percent of its annual sales revenue into technology innovation and R&D. The company has established universities and colleges such as the Beijing Geely University, Hanna University Sanya College and the Zhejiang Automotive Vocational and Technical College which have an enrolment of more than 40,000 students, that turns over 10,000 individuals to China’s own domestic automobile industry. To date, it owns about 9000 patents, including more than 1100 patents for inventions, along with more than 40 international patents, and has been accredited as China’s national “corporate technical center”, “postdoctoral workstation” and “high-tech enterprise”.

Top priority has been given to creating environmentally-friendly cars that rank high on safety. According to statistics published, Geely has received nearly 20 state, provincial and industry awards and obtained more than 400 patents in the field of safety technology alone since 2008. In 2012, their project entitled “Geely Car Safety Technology R&D and Industrialization” was awarded the first prize in the “China Automotive Industry Science and Technology Award” held in Beijing.

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The Centre for International Business Studies (CIBS) visiting CEVT.
The meeting was arranged by Professor Ramsin Yakob.

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With the understanding that a global market will need global solutions, the activities at CEVT are highly characterised by cross-border cooperation, in terms of organisation management, competence and expertise between countries. With complementary interiors of high ceilings, white walled office spaces in sleek lines, the beautiful working arena seems to encourage creative discussions around the coffee-machine that is typical of the Swedish fika. The centre has the ambition to be the focal point of Geely’s R&D activities for Europe in the near future, much with a global outlook for its developments and products.

CEVT R&D centre is set to benefit both Volvo Cars and Geely in a symbiotic relationship.

References
[1] Fägerhag, M. 2013. CEVT (China-Euro Vehicle Technology). Ett utvecklingsbolag för. Kina – bilindustrins nya hem. Internet resource, at www.fkg.se, retrieved 20 Jan. 2014.

Acknowledgement
Cheryl Marie Cordeiro would like to thank Deputy CEO Gang Wei for his time and insights into CEVT; and Professor Ramsin Yakob for making this meeting possible.