The name Volvo, derived from the Latin for "I roll" (or "I drive" in a modern sense), was thought to be a good trademark for a ball bearing as well as for an automobile.
Volvo was originally formed as a subsidiary company to the ball bearing maker SKF. It was not until 1935 when Volvo AB was introduced on the Swedish stock exchange that SKF sold most of the shares in the company. Volvo Cars was owned by AB Volvo until 1999, when it was acquired by the Ford Motor Company as part of its Premier Automotive Group.
Volvo produces models ranging from SUVs, wagons, and sedans to compact executive sedans and coupes. With 2,500 dealerships worldwide in 100 markets; 60 percent of sales come from Europe, 30 percent from North America, and the other 10 percent is from the rest of the world.
Volvo's market share is shrinking in the North American market. However, Volvo increased its market share in new markets such as Russia, China and India. Specifically, Volvo expected sales in Russia to double and exceed 20,000 units by the end of 2007, making Russia one of the ten biggest markets for the company. Volvo already boasts the leading position in Russia's luxury car segment.
Older models were often compared to tractors, partially because Volvo AB was and still is a manufacturer of heavy equipment, earlier Bolinder-Munktell, now Volvo Construction Equipment. Considered by some to be slow and heavy, they earned the distinction "brick" as term of endearment for the classic, block-shaped Volvo, with the more powerful turbo charged variants known as "turbobricks". More recent models have moved away from the boxy styles favored in the 1970s and 1980s and built a reputation for sporting performance, but not before the phenomenal success of factory-supported Volvo 240 turbos winning both the 1985 European Touring Car Championship (ETC) and 1986 Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC). Most recently a 850 series wagon won top honors at the 1995 British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).
Owners are often proud of achieving prodigious mileages with one well documented 1966 Volvo P1800S having been driven over 2.6 million miles. According to some figures the average age of a Volvo being discarded is second only to Mercedes at 19.8 years. Reliability is considered better than average and in the USA Volvo dealers are listed by Forbes as one of the best among all car makers (9th) and luxury car makers (6th).
Volvo company came about in Gothenburg, Sweden in the year 1927. The company was founded by SKF as a subsidiary company 100% owned by SKF. Assar Gabrielsson was appointed the managing director and Gustav Larson as the technical manager.
"Cars are driven by people. The guiding principle behind everything we make at Volvo, therefore, is and must remain, safety", Assar Gabrielsson and Gustav Larson 1927.
The trademark Volvo was first registered by SKF the 11th May 1915 with the intention to use it for a special series of ball bearing for the American market, but it was never used for this purpose. SKF trademark as it looks today was used instead for all the SKF-products. Some pre-series of Volvo-bearings stamped with the brand name 'Volvo' were manufactured but was never released to the market and it was not until 1927 that the trademark was used again, now as a trademark and company name for an automobile. The first Volvo car left the assembly line April 14, 1927 was called Volvo ÖV 4. After this the young company produced closed top and cabriolet vehicles, which were designed to hold strong in the Swedish climate and terrain. The Volvo symbol is an ancient chemistry sign for iron. The iron sign is used to symbolize the strength of iron used in the car as Sweden is known for its quality iron. The diagonal line (a strip of metal) across the grille came about to hold the actual symbol, a circle with an arrow, in front of the radiator. In the registration application for Volvo logotype in 1927, they simply made a copy of the entire radiator for ÖV4, viewed from the front.
In 1964 Volvo opened its Torslanda plant in Sweden, which currently is the one of its largest production sites (chiefly large cars and SUV). Then in 1965 the Ghent, Belgium plant was opened, which is the company's second largest production site (chiefly small cars). Finally in 1989 the Uddevalla plant in Sweden was opened, which is now jointly operated by Volvo Car Corporation and Pininfarina of Italy.
A collection of Volvo's most important historical vehicles are now housed a The Volvo Museum, which opened in a permanent location in Arendal at Hisingen on May 30, 1995. For several years, the collection had been housed at "The Blue Hangar," at the then closed Torslanda Airport.
In 1944, laminated glass was introduced in the PV model. In 1958, Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin invented and patented the modern 3-Point Safety Belt, which became standard on all Volvo cars in 1959. Volvo was the first company to produce cars with padded dashboards starting in late 1956 with their Amazon model. Additionally, Volvo developed the first rear-facing child seat in 1964 and introduced its own booster seat in 1978.
In 1986, Volvo introduced the first central high-mounted stoplight (a brake light not shared with the rear tail lights), which became federally mandated in the United States in the 1986 model year. Seat belt and child seat innovation continued as shown in the 1991 960. The 960 introduced the first three-point seat belt for the middle of the rear seat and a child safety cushion integrated in the middle armrest. Also in 1991 came the introduction of the Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) on the 940/960 and 850 models, which channeled the force of a side impact away from the doors and into the safety cage. To add to its SIPS in 1995 Volvo was the first to introduce side airbags and installed them as standard equipment in all models in 1995. In 1998 Volvo also developed and was the first to install a head protecting airbag, which was made standard in all new models as well as some existing models. The head-protecting airbag was not available on the 1996 C70 due to the initial design deploying the airbag from the roof; the C70, being a convertible, could not accommodate such an airbag. Later years of the C70 featured a head-protecting airbag deploying upwards from the door, negating the issue of roof position. It has been stated by many testing authorities that side head protecting curtain airbags can reduce risk of death in a side impact by up to 40% and brain injury by up to 55%, as well as protecting in a rollover situation.
In 1998, Volvo introduced its Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), a safety device to prevent injury of front seat users during collisions. In 2004, Volvo introduced the BLIS system, which detects vehicles entering the Volvo's blind spot with a side view mirror mounted sensor and alerts the driver with a light. That year also saw Volvos sold in all markets equipped with side-marker lights and daytime-running lights (the latter having already been available in many markets for some time). Much of Volvo's safety technology now also goes into other Ford vehicles. In 2005 Volvo presented the second generation of Volvo C70, it comes with extra stiff door-mounted inflatable side curtains (the first of its kind in a convertible).
In 2006 Volvo's Personal Car Communicator (PCC) remote control has been launched as an optional feature with the all new Volvo S80. This feature is fairly new to the automotive industry. Before a driver gets to their car, they are able to review the security level and know whether they have set the alarm and if the car is locked. Additionally, a heartbeat sensor warns if someone is hiding inside the car. The heartbeat sensor is rumored to also work with the SOS feature of Volvo's new telematics system. The all new Volvo S80 is also the first Volvo model to feature Adaptive cruise control (ACC) with Collision Warning and Brake Support (CWBS).
By the mid-1990s there was little to distinguish Volvo from some other manufacturers (notably Renault) on safety when put through standardized tests such as Euro NCAP. A 2005 FOLKSAM report puts the 740/940 (from 1982 on) in the 15% better than average category, the second from the top category. Also, the production of P1800 had to be stopped because it did not fulfill US safety standards. The Volvo 745 was also recalled due to that the front seatbelts mounts could break in a collision.
Even although Volvo Car Corp is owned by the Ford Motor Company, the safety systems of Volvo are still made standard on all of their vehicles. Volvo has patented all of their safety innovations that would include SIPS, WHIPS, ROPS, DSTC, IC, and body structures to name a few. Some of these systems have shown up in other Ford vehicles in related forms to that of Volvo systems only because Volvo has licenced the FOMOCO and other PAG members to utilize these features.
According to the IIHS, in recent years Volvo Cars have still managed to maintain their high class safety ratings as seen in test results. The Volvo XC90, S80 and C70 all score top scores in these rated crash tests.
In 2008 a French court found Volvo guilty of causing the death of two children and serious injuries of one in Wasselonne on June 17, 1999, when the brakes of a 1996 Volvo 850 failed. The court found Volvo partially responsible for the accident, and sentenced Volvo to a 200,000 Euro fine.
In the early 1970s, Volvo acquired the passenger car division of the Dutch company DAF, and marketed their small cars as Volvos before releasing the Dutch-built Volvo 340, which went on to be one of the biggest-selling cars in the UK market in the 1980s.
Volvo Group, as one of the largest manufacturers of commercial vehicles in the world, took the initiative to sell its automobile manufacturing in 1998 in order to fully focus its efforts on the market for commercial vehicles.
Ford, on the other hand, saw advantages in acquiring a profitable prestige mid-size European automobile manufacturer, well renowned for its safety aspects, as an addition to its Premier Automotive Group. The buyout of Volvo Cars was announced on January 28, 1998, and in the following year the acquisition was completed at a price of $6.45 billion USD.
Volvo entered the European Touring Car Championship with the Volvo 240 in the mid-80s. The cars also entered the Guia Race, part of the Macau Grand Prix in 1985, 1986 and 1987, winning in both 1985 and 1986.
Volvo also entered the British Touring Car Championship in the 90s with Tom Walkinshaw Racing. This partnership was responsible for the controversial 850 Estate racing car, which was only rendered uncompetitive when the FIA allowed the use of aerodynamic aids in 1995. TWR then built and ran the works 850 Saloon, six wins in 1995 and five wins in 1996, and S40, one wins in 1997 in the BTCC. In 1998, TWR Volvo won the British Touring Car Championship with Rickard Rydell driving the S40R.
The Volvo trademark is now jointly owned (50/50) by Volvo Group and Volvo Car Corporation. One of the main promotional activities for the brand is the sailing Race Volvo Ocean Race, formerly known as the Whitbread Around the World Race. There is also a Volvo Baltic Race and Volvo Pacific Race, and Volvo likes to encourage its affluent image by sponsoring golf tournaments all over the world including major championship events called the Volvo Masters and Volvo China Open.
Volvo sponsored the Volvo Ocean Race, the world’s leading round-the-world yacht race for the first time in 2001 – 2002. The next edition will take place as of 2008. Volvo has also had a long-standing commitment to the ISAF and is involved in the Volvo/ISAF World Youth Sailing Championships since 1997.
Originally, Volvo was planning a different naming scheme. S and C were to be the same, but "F", standing for flexibility, was to be used on station wagons. When Volvo introduced the first generation S40 and V40 at Frankfurt in 1994, they were announced as the S4 and F4. However, Audi complained that it had inherent rights to the S4 name, since it names its sporty vehicles "S", and the yet-introduced sport version of the Audi A4 would have the S4 name. Volvo agreed to add a second digit, so the vehicles became the S40 and F40. However, that led to a complaint from Ferrari, who used the Ferrari F40 name on their legendary sports car. This led to Volvo switching the "F" to "V", for versatile.
Company Headquarters, Safety Center
Volvo Test Track
Assembly locations around the world:
Volvo Cars have previously had production facilities on these locations:
Source: Volvo Cars
All markets: 458,323 (427,747)