Chinese made Volvo XC60 SUVs are joining S90 sedans in European showrooms while European built models head for China on the return journey.

The official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, said the first mixed transportation train ferrying 190 Chinese-made XC60s arrived at the Port of Ghent in Belgium earlier this month, completing a 10,000km (6,000 mile) journey from Xi’an in exactly 18 days.

This is the first time Chinese-made Volvo cars were exported to Europe via China Railway Express (Chang’an), injecting new momentum into promoting China-Europe economic and trade exchanges in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative, the news agency said.

The China Railway Express (Chang’an) adopted a scheme of mixed transportation of ‘container + RORO train’ to complete China-Europe round trip transportation, said Zhai Ruopeng, vice general manager of Xi’an International Inland Port Investment and Development Group, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

Upon arrival in Ghent, the China Railway Express (Chang’an) will also bring back to China XC90 models produced by Volvo Cars’ Swedish plant and the V-Series cars produced at Volvo Cars Ghent in Belgium in the same mixed mode of transport.

“Using this solution we not only bring to Europe products made in China, but also provide a channel for products made in Europe to go to China,” added Zhai Ruopeng.

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The mixed transportation solution is also set to reduce the cost of international railway transportation for imports and exports, and greatly improve the utilisation rate of containers and other transportation facilities.

“With this freight connection, we will increase the efficiency and sustainability, particularly with international travel time. It’s a huge competitive advantage. Trains will run six times a week; two times to China, two times to Italy and two times to Austria,” said Stefan Fisher, chief executive of Volvo Cars Ghent.

These first Volvo XC60 cars exported to Europe will be sold to 25 European countries, including the UK, France, Italy, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

As the only luxury car brand in China to be exported to the European and American markets, the Volvo Car China factory has produced models that have been exported to more than 70 countries and regions around the world, with an export rate of nearly 40%.

This train departed from Xi’an, via Alashankou, through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and other countries, before arriving in Malaszewicze, Poland, to complete the container-to-RORO switch, and then through Germany into Belgium, and finally to Ghent.

Volvo China began S90 sedan shipments to Europe by rail in 2017.

S60 sedans were also initially sent from China to the US but were caught by 25% tariffs imposed by President Trump. That model is now built in the US and exported to Europe and elsewhere.

Cars assembled in a Volvo plant in Malaysia are exported within the region.