Ford Motor Co. is inching ever closer to securing a buyer for its Volvo Car Corp. subsidiary, put on the block last year as economic conditions worsened and the auto maker sought to concentrate on its core blue oval brand.

“As part of its strategic review of the Volvo business, Ford has had contact with a number of interested parties who have expressed an interest concerning the future of Volvo,” spokesman John Gardiner tells Ward’s.

“Ford has been pleased with the number and quality of these interested parties, and preliminary discussions have been held to ascertain their level of interest in the Volvo business,” he says. “Ford is now talking in more detail to these interested parties about the future for Volvo.”

Chinese auto makers Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. and Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. repeatedly have been mentioned as potential suitors, but Ford has been careful not reveal names of interested parties.

Ford already has shed its Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd., Jaguar Cars and Land Rover divisions, and reduced its stake in Mazda Motor Corp. from 33% to 13%.

Gardiner says the discussions may or may not lead to a sale of Volvo, as the process will “take some time to unfold.”

Ford “takes seriously its role as the custodian of the Volvo business, and fully understands its responsibilities not only to the Volvo employees but also to its local communities,” he says. “Ford and Volvo will maintain appropriate communications with key stakeholders, such as the unions and Swedish government, during the ongoing process.”