China is one step closer to the purchase of safe Swedish manufacturer Volvo.

Ford of Europe boss John Fleming admitted at the Geneva Motor Show that a sale of Volvo is likely to take some time, given the current economic climate. However, the Chinese rags are reporting that local manufacturer Chery has been given the nod by its government to enter the bidding war for the luxury marque.

Other Chinese brands still circling the Swedes are Dongfeng (DFM), Chang'an, and possibly Geely, but new interest Chery is in a good financial position to purchase the $950 billion dollar company thanks to its recent sales success - and a suspiciously well-timed $2.31 billion global expansion loan from the administration.

It makes sense for the Chinese companies, whose domestic market love their luxury cars - and purchasing an established premier brand would mean instant credibility. And with certain brands and models still battling with a bad safety image (see the one-star Brilliance crash test above), the Volvo is a sure bet.

Chery is due to launch here and in NZ sometime this year under the wing of automotive importer ATECO, which originally brought Kia into the country, and still hold Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Maserati, Citroen and Fiat.