Dynamics of Industrial Location

Uddevalla Lives

Dynamics of Industrial Location notes that Volvo's new auto factory at Uddevalla, which pioneered a radical experiment in work organization, was closed (see pp.'s 180-83 and pp. 299-301). Happily this factory has been re-opened and I was lucky enough to taken on a tour of the plant in August, 1997 under the direction of Kajsa Ellegård.

A comprehensive discussion of the development, rationale and performance of the original Uddevalla operations can be found in: A Sandberg (ed) 1995, Enriching Production: Perspectives on Volvo's Uddevalla Plant as an Alternative to Lean Production Aldershot: Avebury. This book was written as an assessment of Uddevalla's experience, in terms of its unique philosophy, role in Volvo's broader strategy and in comparison with other auto assembly operations around the world, including the Japanese model of lean production and GM's Saturn initiative.

The Uddevalla plant operated from 1989 to 1993 when it was closed. In early 1995, however, Volvo announced a plan to re-open it as a joint venture with the British-based TWR company. The factory remains committed to a more participatory and skill centred approach to making cars and with the entrepreneurship of TWR, the strategic role of the plant for Volvo is to tap into the tastes of young people who prefer sportier styles than normally associated with Volvo.