The bigger of the two mainstream Swedish car manufacturers, Volvo has enjoyed success in many different markets. How have they achieved this success? And are all their products as safety conscious as the cars?
Assar Gabrielsson and Gustal Larson, who were both working at SKF bearings, founded Volvo in 1927. They must have been on extremely good terms with the owners of SKF, as it was them that owned the Volvo trademark, which they donated to the pair of entrepreneurs. SKF had shelved the brand after an earlier project was cancelled. Loosely translated from Latin Volvo means ‘It Rolls’.
Safety, safety, and then some more safety
They have had several breakthroughs that went on to become commonplace for all manufacturers. They produced the first laminated windscreen, side impact protection system, side impact airbags and height adjustable seat belt.
Volvo on TV
Roger Moore could be seen regularly speeding around in his P1800 on the Saint TV show. Originally the producer wanted to use an E-Type Jaguar, but they were in short supply at the time. They were so impressed with the P1800 that they never changed it. Roger Moore continued to drive one for several years after filming had ceased.
In the early 90’s Volvo split into two companies. Volvo Cars continued to make automobiles, whilst Volvo Group owned Volvo Trucks, Volvo Busses, Volvo Construction Equipment, Renault Trucks, Mac Trucks and UD Trucks. Volvo Cars was purchased by ford in 1999. Ford then sold it to a Chinese Investment firm in 2010.
Product placement and celebrity fans
Kurt Cobain owned a Volvo 240. Apparently he was a very careful driver and considered his Volvo to be the safest car on the road. Volvo also features heavily in the more recent Twilight series of films. Edward Cullen can regularly be seen brooding in one of Volvo’s cars.
Game changing innovation
Volvo invented the 3-point seatbelt. They purposely did not patent the design as they recognised the contribution it would have to safety, and wanted all manufacturers to be able to adopt it. They were also the first manufacturer to produce a rear facing child seat in 1964. 12 years later they produced their own booster seat.
The average usable lifespan of a Volvo car is 19.8 years. This puts them in second place on the global reliability table, second only to Mercedes Benz.