Volvo Cars is a Swedish brand that’s been around since 1927. The Brand’s current headquarters are in Torslanda, a Swedish municipality outside Gothenburg. Many people assume that Volvo Cars and AB Volvo (the construction and heavy truck company) are the same, but these two firms run independently since Volvo Cars was sold to Ford in 1999. Since 2010, the owner of Volvo Cars has been Geely Holding Group, which is a Chinese automotive manufacturing company.
With the help of this newer ownership, Volvo is poised to take on some of the bigger luxury brands like Mercedes and Audi. The company manufactures compact executive sedans, sedans, station wagons and numerous sport utility vehicles that appeal to the luxury market. They are also focused on creating electric and hybrid-electric vehicles to replace internal combustion engines.
The name VOLVO is in all capital letters on the company’s logo. In addition, both Volvo Cars and AB Volvo continue to share this logo and run the Volvo museum together.
The History Of Volvo
The word Volvo means “I roll” in Latin, which many people don’t know. The company was born with the production of the “Jakob” on April 14th, 1927. It was produced in the Gothenburg, Sweden factory. Volvo was founded by Gustaf Larsson and Assar Gabrielsson, who desired to build a vehicle focused on safety and quality.
The early cars were available as both cabriolets and closed top coupes. Both the OV4 and PV4 models were equipped with a four-cylinder engine and were designed to withstand the harsher Swedish climate. That’s where the iron symbol comes from which is still displayed on Volvo vehicles today.
In 1929, Volvo released the six-cylinder PV651 which was wider and longer than Jakob. This release allowed the company to purchase its first factory and in 1931, they returned their first dividends to shareholders.
In May 1932, Volvo reached a production volume of 10,000 vehicles. This manufacturing ability lead to a desire to have an inexpensive model created that could be sold to the common person. Volvo responded with the PV 51 in 1936, which was designed to be like their PV 36 but was smaller and had less equipment.
Through the 1960s
During the Second World War, Volvo’s production was restricted. In 1944, the company released its most significant vehicle yet, the PV444. It was Volvo’s first smaller car and it combined European size with American flair. Through the 60s, the PV444 and PV544 would become dominators in Volvo production. They were also the first models to gain a part of the US market.
In 1956, Volvo released the 120, otherwise known as the Amazon, and this became a popular model as well. The first sports car they offered came to be in 1956 with the launch of the P1900. This had a limited production run and ended up being replaced by the P1800 in 1960. This exceptional touring car was featured in the TV series “The Saint” with Roger Moore.
In 1964, Volvo opened a production plant located in Torslanda, Sweden that could produce 200,000 cars each year. To further stake a claim in the family market, Volvo produced the 140 series. The 60s were also the decade of a new sports car, the P1800, and numerous safety features.
The engines were more powerful and cars became safer with each new model. The United States became the largest export market for the company and they jumped to the fourth most popular imported car in the US. Some new innovations during this time included collapsible steering columns and a three-way catalytic converter.
The 1970s to 2000
As Volvo approached its 50th anniversary, they began to experience record sales. New plants were built, many models emerged, and their technology led the pack in safety features. Between the rear-facing child seats, three-point safety harnesses, collapsible steering columns, and childproof locks, Volvo showed the world what it was like to be a leader in the safety department.
If that wasn’t enough, in 1972, Volvo created the VESC (Volvo Experimental Safety Car). It was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show as the forerunner of technical solutions to car safety. It quickly became a part of what Volvo was as a company. The design of the VESC was later used in 1974 with the Volvo 240. This model was the longest-lasting Volvo model ever produced and sold just shy of 3 million cars during its almost two-decade-long production.
In the 80s, Volvo focused heavily on safety, speed, and power. They produced their first-ever turbo-charged car and sales continued to climb. In fact, they sent their one-millionth vehicle off the Swedish assembly line to North America during this decade. Volvo was becoming a player in the elite market as far as automobiles were concerned.
The 90s were a decade of transition and elegance. The Volvo 850GLT was designed and it featured four unique innovations: a transverse five-cylinder engine, a self-adjusting seatbelt, the in-house Delta-link rear axle, and the SIPS integrated side-impact protection system. This line was Volvo’s first front-wheel-drive executive vehicle, and it entered the market with huge ambitions.
Volvo was slowly moving away from its boxy design to appeal to a new generation of consumers. On top of that, Volvo’s recognition for safety was at an all-time high and they were consistently winning prestigious awards.
As the designs developed, Volvo released their new S, V, and C tags. In 1996, they introduced the sleek and rounded S40 and V40 models. Just like the C70 convertible and coupe which was released later in the year, Volvo continued to value environmental concerns, sporty designs, safety, and precise engineering. In 1998 Volvo unveiled the S80 sedan, then just a year later, gave America the V70 wagon as well.
Volvo in the Modern Age
The new millennium ushered in a lot of model launches and record sales. The early years also brought many concept cars into the mix. The Adventure Concept Car (ACC) later became the XC90, the Safety Concept Car (SCC) is what the C30 is based on, and the Performance Concept Car (PCC) is the base of the R series of cars. This new generation of vehicles offers a sportier appearance with curves and lines added to the models.
In 2000, Volvo produced a bunch of new vehicles including the V70, SC70, and S60. Volvo Cars also released their new generation of Volvo SUVs starting with the XC90, which has been a continuing success in the market.
In 2003, they released a new line of compact cars, the S40 and V50. Then, in 2005, the C70 convertible was released as well. To appeal to the younger group, they also released the C30 compact sporty coupe in 2006. They also included some new fuel-efficient engines and driver-assist aids.
In 2006, the company began production in China, then in 2007, they unveiled the ReCharge plug-in hybrid concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Just a year later, they introduced the DRIVe cars which were mid-size vehicles with clean and economical diesel engines. 2008 also brought the release of the XC60 crossover model.
From April 1927 to March 2018, there was a total of 20,177,060 Volvo cars produced.
Alternative Propulsion Methods
The Volvo Environmental Concept Car (ECC) was shown at the Paris Motor Show in 1992. The range just on battery power was 90 miles, but if it was combined with a full tank of fuel, it was more like 445 miles.
In 2005, Volvo released the FlexiFuel S40 which was one of the first E85 flex cars ever launched in Sweden from a domestic manufacturer. This vehicle is now offered in Europe.
In 2007, Volvo unveiled the ReCharge at the Frankfurt Auto Show. This plug-in hybrid was a concept car that featured a 60-mile all-electric range. Then in 2009, Volvo announced plans to produce diesel-electric plug-in hybrids. With help from Vattenfall, an energy company in Sweden, they converted two models of the V70 as a demonstration.
They also exhibited the Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric concept car at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. It was sold in the US from 2007 through 2013 with just over 22,000 units sold. This electric car features a top speed of 81 mph, an all-electric range of 93 miles, and a lithium-ion battery.
In 2015, Volvo introduced the forced-induction four-cylinder engine in the S60, V60, and XC60. This is also referred to as the Drive-E. It was marketed as a way to increase efficiency without sacrificing performance. A hybrid version of this engine could have enough power to compete with an eight-cylinder engine.
Volvo Crash and Safety Ratings
Many people wonder if Volvos are reliable, which is exactly what the company has marketed for many years. As a result, they are well-known for being a solid and reliable brand. Even before the government regulations became stricter, Volvo was conscientious of being a leader in safety innovations. Many other car manufacturers have modeled their own businesses after Volvo in an effort to keep up with changes over the years.
Volvo Safety Equipment
In fact, in the 50s, Nils Bohlin, an engineer for the company, was the person responsible for inventing and patenting the three-point safety buckle. They also developed the first ever rear-facing child seat in the 60s and a booster seat toward the end of the 70s. In 1995, Volvo became the first company to incorporate side airbags as a standard feature in all of its models.
Even after the Ford Motor Company took over operations, Volvo’s safety equipment remained a standard feature on all vehicles. Over the years, Volvo has patented numerous safety innovations which include WHIPS (Whiplash Protection System), SIPS (Side Impact Protection System), DSTC (Dynamic Stability & Traction Control), ROPS (Roll-Over Protection System), and innovative body structures.
Surprisingly, when the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) was started in 2005, none of the cars were included as a “Top Safety Pick”. The IIHS claimed that Volvo had fallen behind the competition.
In 2006, Volvo released the Personal Car Communicator as one of the optional features for the S80. It allowed the driver to see if the car was locked and the alarm was set remotely. In addition, they had a heartbeat sensor installed which could indicate if someone was inside the vehicle. The S80 was the first model to offer adaptive cruise control plus Brake Support and Collision Warning.
The Volvo S80 broke through to become one of the IIHS Top Safety Pick Award Winners of 2009. In 2017, five models of Volvo were on the IIHS Top Safety Pick Award Winner List. The models were the 2017 Volvo S60, 2017 Volvo V60, 2017 Volvo XC60, 2017 Volvo S90 and the 2017 Volvo XC90.
Volvo Safety Recalls
When it comes to recalls, Volvo falls just above the industry average. For a 31-year period, the average is to have 1,115 vehicles recalled for every 1,000 vehicles sold. Keep in mind that many cars are recalled more than once for various issues.
In Volvo’s 31-year assessment, they sold 2,940,087 cars but recalled 3,398,341. This gives them a recall rate of 1,156 per 1,000.
In 1995, all Volvo 745s were recalled because the mounts to the front seatbelts were susceptible to breakage during a collision. In addition, they were also found partially responsible for leading to the death of a couple of children by a French court in 2008. The incident occurred in 1999 and was deemed as result of the brakes to a ’96 Volvo 850 failing.
Volvo Consumer Satisfaction Reports
During the 90s, Volvo had difficulty delivering a high-quality product that U.S. drivers wanted. The result of that was a lower customer satisfaction rating that was proving to be tough to turn around. As the years went on and their efforts increased, their comeback did show minimal force in the industry.
In 2017, Volvo’s J.D. Power U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index Ranking was 12 out of 14 luxury brands, so it still showed that there was work to be done. In addition, they were ranked 10 out of 12 in the 2016 J.D. Power Customer Service Index Ranking of Luxury Brands.
Volvo Dependability Ratings
In 2016, Consumer Reports did a study on the reliability of various automobiles. Volvo declined from the previous year and went back four slots to number 23 out of 27 brands evaluated. They examined three models and determined that the XC90 was the least reliable model while the V60 came in as the most reliable option for the brand.
With that said, J.D. Power ranked them average in all the available categories during a recent Vehicle Dependability Study. They evaluated the overall dependability as well as individual powertrain, interior features, and accessory dependability.
Reliability Index wasn’t so favorable when examining Volvo and ranked them in 23rd out of 32, so you can see the evaluations are all relative to the reviewer.
One reason that the company has struggled with their dependability is based largely on price point. An expensive vehicle just costs more to repair, which lowers dependability scores. Low repair costs create dependable cars and the Volvo simply doesn’t fit in that category.
Another reason is related to the amount of technology within the car. Volvo offers innovative features that can be expensive and troublesome to repair. They can also be glitchy and unreliable. In addition, if the software doesn’t receive the latest updates, it could fail, which just leads to more complaints.
Volvo Business Operations
The Volvo Group currently operates the following companies, many of which most people aren’t aware of:
Dongfeng Commercial Vehicles – Volvo has a 45% stake in this commercial truck company
Mack Trucks – offering light-duty trucks for distribution and heavy-duty for transportation
Renault Trucks – offering heavy-duty trucks for transportation and heavy-duty for construction work
SDLG – offering construction equipment; Volvo owns 70%
UD Trucks – a midsize-duty truck line
VE Commercial Vehicles (Eicher) Ltd., India (VECV) – a joint venture of trucks and bus production between Eicher Motors Limited and the Volvo Group with Volvo holding 45.6%
Volvo Buses – offering buses for city, tourist, and line traffic. They also specialize in bus chassis.
Volvo Construction Equipment
Volvo Financial Services – offering inter-group banking like real estate administration. They also handle customer financing.
Volvo Information Technology
Volvo Penta – offering marine engine systems for commercial shipping and leisure boats. Also responsible for diesel engines and the drive systems used in industrial applications.
Volvo Trucks – offering midsize-trucks and heavy-duty trucks mainly for long-distance operations and construction work.
Snapshot of Volvo as a Company
Production for the Volvo Company takes place across several countries. There are four production plants in Sweden that produce body components, engines, and brake discs. In Belgium, the Ghent production plant handles the V40, XC40, S60, and V60 and they’ve been open since 1965. In China, there are three plants handling the manufacturing of the S60L, XC60, S90, S90L, and various engines. There is one additional plant located in Shah Alam, Malaysia that handles the manufacturing of the V40, S60, V60, XC60, and XC90. In late 2018, there will be a new Volvo plant in South Carolina.
Volvo Cars of North America, LLC offers support to United States, Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. It was incorporated in 1981 and is headquartered in Rockleigh, New Jersey. The chief executive, president and senior vice president of Americas is Mr. Lex Kerssemakers. The vice president of human resources is Ms. Juanita R. Mitchell and the head of sales and marketing is Mr. Gerry Keaney.
Volvo’s been in the United States for decades while the image remained unchanged for a good portion. It’s typically been geared toward the family-friendly driver, but in the early 2000s, models started to target a younger, sportier generation. There was also a push for more marketing during this time. This shift seemed to have helped their image because, in 2017, they achieved record sales for the fourth consecutive year with 571 thousand cars sold.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 1977, they attempted to combine their operations with its Swedish rival Saab, only to be rejected. In 1978, the Volvo Car Corporation became its own company from the Volvo group. Renault then acquired a minority stake prior to giving it back to them in the 80s.
As independent car manufacturers were entering into agreements with larger companies, Volvo attempted to merge with Renault in 1993. In its final stages, however, the deal fell through and Volvo remained one of the few independent manufacturers.
In 1991, Volvo participated in a venture with the Japanese brand, Mitsubishi Motors. This operation was branded NedCar and they began manufacturing the Mitsubishi Carisma with the Volvo S40/V40. During these years, Volvo also collaborated with General Motors.
In 1999, the Volvo Group sold off the Volvo Car Corporation to the Ford Motor Company. This deal totaled $6.45 billion and it was placed inside Ford’s Premier Automotive Group alongside Land Rover, Aston Martin, and Jaguar. Volvo began engineering components to be used in Land Rover, Aston Martin, and Ford products. In fact, the second generation Land Rover Freelander used the same platform as the second generation Volvo S80.
In addition, Volvo’s T5 petrol engine was also used in the Ford Focus ST and RS performance models. The Aston Martin used the Volvo satellite navigation system on the DB9, V8 Vantage, and Vanquish models.
In 1999, the Volvo Group acquired a 5% stake from Mitsubishi Motors for a partnership in the bus and truck business. Then, in 2001, Volvo sold off the shares when DaimlerChrysler purchased a portion of Mitsubishi Motors.
Volvo set up a motorsport department in 1959 which offered them worldwide success in the early 1960s. In 1961, Gran Premio de Argentina Gunnar Andersson signed several drivers, including Ewy Rosqvist, Tom Trana, and Carl-Magnus Skogh to the motorsport team. In 1964, four Volvo PV544s entered the Safari Rally for the first time and then in 1965, brothers Joginder and Jaswant Singh won the race.
Then, in the 80s, the Volvo 240 Turbo entered into the European Touring Car Championship. In 1984, the Swedish team Sportpromotion was the winner of the EG Trophy at Zolder circuit. Then, they placed second in Mugello. In 1985, team drivers Thomas Lindström and Gianfranco Brancatelli won the ETCC victory with the 240T.
In other 1985 races, drivers Michel Delcourt and Robbie Francevic won the Wellington 500 street race held in New Zealand, while in 1986 Thomas Lindström and Francevic won. Francevic also continued on to finish 5th in the Australian Touring Car Championship.
In 1986, race teams won at Hockenheim, Österreichring, Anderstorp, Brno, and Zolder. Unfortunately, the wins at both Österreichring and Anderstorp were disqualified because the team used illegal fuel. In 1985 and 1986, the 240T won the Guia Race, which was part of the Macau Grand Prix. This car was also the winner of the 1985 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft.
In the 90s, Volvo entered into the British Touring Car Championship with a partnership from Tom Walkinshaw Racing. TWR built the 850 Saloon and won six times in 1995, five times in 1996, and one win in 1997 with an S40. In 1998, they won the British Touring Car Championship with the S40R.
From 2013 to 2015, Thed Björk took home three consecutive titles while driving an S60 during the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship. In 2014, two S60s entered the V8 Supercars Championship with help from Garry Rogers Motorsport. With four race wins and ten pole positions, Scott McLaughlin came in fifth in the championship and earned the Barry Sheene Medal.
If you are a true enthusiast of this Swedish brand, you should visit the Volvo museum. It’s located in Sweden and features many iconic models, new innovations, and stunning prototypes. At the museum, you can literally journey through the heritage and history of the brand. Starting with 1927, the museum highlights all the highs and lows of the collection ranging from passenger cars to heavy trucks and buses. There’s also plenty of information regarding their construction equipment and marine engines.
The neat thing about this museum is that you don’t even need to be an auto enthusiast to enjoy it. It’s a family adventure spot with a classic car for the children to play in as well as a LEGO XC90 built at full-size. It used to be on display at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad but now lives at the museum in Sweden.
Other museums owned by the Volvo Group include the Industrial Museum in Skövde, the Industrial Museum in Arvika, the Munktell Museum, the Mack Museum, and the Berliet Foundation. If you are a fan of this Swedish brand, there is no lack of sightseeing adventures worth experiencing.
Volvo Financial Services
In 2001, Volvo Financial Services spun off as part of AB Volvo’s operations. They deal with customer and dealer financing, insurance, and other financial aspects of the automobile industry. The world headquarters are in Greensboro, North Carolina, and they operate in over 40 countries. Volvo Financial Services employs 1,400 people worldwide.
The group offers services for the following labels: Mack Financial Services, SDLG Financial Services, Renault Trucks Financial Services, and UD Trucks Financial Services. In 2013, VFS had managed assets which amounted to about $120 billion Swedish krona, or $13.5 billion USD.
Some of the services that VFS offers include lease-end purchases, financing of new and used vehicles, lease extension, and insurance solutions. They also offer many website tools such as trade-in value lookup, easy quotes, full model inventory, as well as a listing of all the current offers available.
They also offer a wide array of leasing options. You can choose the term of your lease from 24 to 48 months. Their standard mileage plan includes 15,000 miles per year, but other plans include as little or 7,500 or as much as 30,000 a year based on your needs.
They also offer the option to pay your entire lease with one payment. This is a lower amount than you would pay over the term of your lease and frees you up to worry about other things. Other lease options include business leases, a guaranteed auto waiver protection, the multiple security deposit lease, plus and excess wear and protection plan.
Volvo Financial Services offers several other special programs. The expatriate program is for business professionals located outside the United States. It allows them to lease or finance the vehicle while staying in the States. The contract time has a limit based on the stay issued on their visa or employment contract. They also have graduate programs with flexible, competitive financing terms. With this program, only a 5% down payment is required with credit approval.
There are about 2,300 Volvo dealerships located within approximately 100 national sales companies across the world. Their largest markets are in the United States, China, and Sweden, but there are many other countries where they operate as well. Most of the company’s employees are based in Sweden.
Volvo Trucks have their own set of dealerships with more than 350 currently operating with numerous repair bays across the world as well.
There are three dedicated Volvo dealerships that earned the J.D. Power Dealers of Excellence award. They are Volvo Cars Marin in California, Volvo Cars Palo Alto also in California, and Herb Chambers Volvo Cars Norwood in Massachusetts. To earn this award, dealers must have a significant amount of sales as well as a high level of customer satisfaction. They also have vehicle inventory listed on the website and negotiate in a fair manner. To earn the award, dealers must also prove they offer fair trade-in value and present a clear F&I product menu on their website.
10 Interesting Facts about Volvo
1- 1935 was a great year for the company. They introduced the PV36, a luxury car featuring seating for six. It was a vehicle on the expensive side but it appealed to many with its streamlined body and futuristic design.
2 – In the 50s, Volvo was doing so well financially that they extended 5-year insurance on all vehicles.
3 – In 1960, they installed soft plastic dashboards in all the vehicles they produced.
4 – The first assembly plant to open outside of Sweden was located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. It opened in 1963.
5 – Volvo was the first company to install both front and rear fog lights on its vehicles.
6 – The logo is a spear and shield, which is also the symbol of Mars. The diagonal iron bar was just placed by accident when they attached the logo onto the grille.
7 – Irv Gorden clocked the highest mileage on a Volvo at three million miles. He owned his P1800 since it was new in 1966.
8 – Volvo built a T6 to show off at the 2003 SEMA show held in Las Vegas and paid tribute to American hotrods. The open-wheeler design featured a 2.9-liter twin-turbo 6-cylinder that produced 330 horsepower.
9 – The V60 Diesel Hybrid produced higher levels of torque than a Ford F-250 Super Duty (405 lb-ft), Ferrari F458 Italia (398 lb-ft) and the Corvette Stingray (460 lb-ft). The V60 Diesel Hybrid has a 5-cylinder diesel engine and 215 horsepower with 324 lb-ft of torque plus an additional electric engine with 68 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque.
10 – Swedes drink more coffee per capita than anywhere else. That’s why they executives fly baristas from their favorite coffee roaster to all the major international auto shows.
Does Ford Own Volvo? No. The Ford Motor Company was once the owner of Volvo after it purchased the company in 1999. However, Ford sold the Volvo brand to the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, which is the parent company of Chinese motor manufacturer Geely Automobile, in 2010.