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History of Volvo

The history of Volvo starts with SKF (Svenska Kullagerfabriken), which produces ball-bearings. SKF registered the name “Volvo” (which means “I roll”) in May 1911 to use it for future ball-bearing series. In 1915 the name Volvo was used for a subsidiary of SKF. The name “Volvo” was even used for a short time for some ball bearings but SKF decided to only use their own company name.

In the early 1920s Assar Gabrielsson (1891) was the Managing Director of SKF. When he met Gustaf Larsson (an engineer) they soon were talking about a real Swedish car. They both had the idea the Swedish market was big enough to be succesfull for a Swedish car which would withstand the rough roads and cold temperature. Gabrielsson presented his ideas to the SKF board members but SKF didn’t see much in the ideas. Gabrielsson offered the idea to produce a small series of test cars with private funding alongside his SKF-job. SKF agreed and in 1924 Gabrielsson and Larsson made a verbal agreement.

On August 10 1926 the SKF boardmembers gave permission to Gabrielsson and Larsson to use the name “Volvo” for the new car company. SKF also paid 200.000 Kronor to take over the ideas of Gabrielsson and Larsson. SKF was the new owner of a car company in formation and they approached in January 1927 Gabrielsson to become the first Managing Director of AB Volvo. A compensation for the outlay in producing test cars, drawings and sketches and all equipment was also a part of the deal. Larsson should be responsible for the technical designs of the car. The new factory (including a very simple and primitive assembly line) was settled in an old plant which used to be a ball-bearing factory in Hisingen (Gothenborg, Sweden).

On 14 April 1927 (just one day before Easter) the first car of Volvo left the Hisingen-plant: the first production-version of the OV4 (Öppen Vagn 4 cylindrar, which means Open Car 4-cilinder) was build and ready to be sold. The Volvo OV4 is also known as the Volvo Jakob. Volvo considered that day to be the official birthday of Volvo.

Volvo OV4 Jakob
Volvo’s first car: the OV4

In 1929 SKF was planning to sell Volvo to Nash (USA) because there wasn’t enough profit (or even not at all). Fortunately Gabrielsson was succesfully convincing SKF the keep Volvo and the Nash-deal didn’t take place. The following year Volvo made a modest profit.

Volvo is also known for its boat engines (Penta), buses, trucks and constuction equipment. The first truck was build in Januari 1928 (Series 1) and the first bus (Volvo B1) was ready in 1934. Volvo took over Pentaverken (a marine engine builder, founded in 1907) in 1935.

The first Volvo-plant outside Sweden was build in Halifax (Canada) in 1963.

On January 28 1999 Volvo sold the car division (Volvo Car Corporation) to the Ford Motor Company. Because Ford had some serious troubles due the economic situation Ford was forced to sell some of its companies and Volvo was sold to the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in March 2010.

Volvo business areas

The Volvo Group contains several sub-divisions which are active at very different markets. Volvo AB contains the following subsidiairies:

  • Volvo Car Corporation: since 1999 not longer part of the Volvo Group.
  • Volvo Trucks: midsize- and heavy-duty trucks.
  • Mack Trucks: taken over by Volvo in 2000. Light- and midsize-duty trucks.
  • Renault Trucks: taken over by Volvo in 2001. Heavy duty trucks.
  • UD Trucks: midsize-duty trucks and buses, formerly known as Nissan Diesel but taken over by Volvo in 2007.
  • Volvo Construction Equipment: excavators, diggers, graders, heavy construction trucks etc etc. Also produced tractors in the past (formerly known as Volvo BM and Bolinder-Munktell before Volvo bought it).
  • Volvo buses: buses and bus chassis for line-, road- and city-traffic and transportation.
  • Volvo Penta: boat and marine engines (petrol and diesel), drive systems for industrial applications.
  • Volvo Aero: components, engines and services for aircraft and rockets.
  • Volvo Financial Services: customer financing, inter-group banking and real-estate.

Besides these subsidiaries there are also a lot of business units at Volvo Group:

  • Volvo Parts: spare parts and aftermarket support.
  • Volvo Powertrain: development of diesel engines, axles and transmissions.
  • Volvo 3P: research and development (R&D) and product planning for Volvo Trucks.
  • Volvo Information Technology: IT-services for all Volvo Group-companies.
  • Volvo Technology and Volvo Technology Transfer: research & development and innovation. The Transfer-part is responsible for the new businesses.
  • Volvo Logistics: logistic solutions and transport.
  • Volvo Business Services: financial administration and control.
  • Volvo Treasury: cash flow and control.
  • Volvo Event Management: sponsorships (like football or the Volvo Ocean Race).

The Volvo Car Corporation has the following business units:

  • Research & Development
  • Purchasing
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing, Sales & Customer Service
  • Public Affairs
  • Quality & Customer Satisfaction
  • Human Resources
  • Finance
  • Legal

Of course there are a lot of more departments like Heritage, Media or communication. But these departments are divided in the units as mentioned above.

 

Timeline of Volvo

A global overview of the history of Volvo per year:

  • 1927: Volvo produces its first car: the Volvo OV4 which leaves the factory on April 14 1927. PV4 also introduced in that year.
  • 1928: Volvo Special (longer version of the PV4). First truck is launched. First foreign subsidiary, settled in Finland.
  • 1929: PV651 with 6-cilinder engine. Volvo almost sold to Nash.
  • 1930: TR671 and TR672 taxi-models introduced. Also PV652 introduced and Volvo buys the Hisingen-factory of SKF. Introduction of the magazine Ratten.

Volvo PV652
Volvo PV652

  • 1931: taxis TR673 and TR674 introduced. Volvo buys Pentaverken (boat engines).

Volvo TR673 taxi
The Volvo TR673 taxi

  • 1932: 10.000th vehicle sold. First bus is made (LV70B). First big order of the Swedish police (40 PV652s).
  • 1933: introduction of the PV653 and PV654.
  • 1934: introduction of the TR675-679-series taxis. Volvo buys out SKF.
  • 1935: introductions of PV36 (aka Volvo Carioca), PV658/659 and TR701-704-series taxis.

Volvo PV36 Carioca
The Volvo PV36, also known as Carioca

  • 1936: PV51 launched.
  • 1937: PV52 launched.
  • 1938: introduction of PV53, PV54, PV55 and PV56. Also Volvo PV801 and PV802 taxis introduced.

Volvo PV801 taxi
The Volvo PV801

  • 1939: producer gas units introduced as alternative for fuel due petrol shortages (caused by World War II).
  • 1940: big drop in car sales, absorbed by increased sales or producer gas units and army vehicles.
  • 1941: 50.000th vehicle sold. Volvo acquires the majority shareholding in Svenska Flymotor (later Volvo Aero).
  • 1942: Volvo buys Köpings Mechaniska Werkstad (Volvo’s supplier of gearboxes and gear components). Development of the PV444 and PV60 started.
  • 1943: prototypes made for the cars that should become the PV444 and PV60.
  • 1944: launches of the PV444 and PV60.
  • 1945: production of the new cars almost not possible due shortages of material (caused by WWII). Only two PV444s produced.
  • 1946: still shortages of steel, no production of the new cars.
  • 1947: production starts in February because there is enough material.
  • 1948: Volvo produces mainly PV444s, new orders are suspended to let supply catch up with demand.
  • 1949: Volvo produces more cars than buses and trucks.
  • 1950: introduction of the PV831 and PV832 taxis.

Volvo PV831
Volvo PV831 taxi

  • 1951: sales of Volvo cars are still increasing.
  • 1952: 25.000th PV444 is produced. Gustaf Larsson retires.
  • 1953: introduction of Volvo Duett (Volvo’s own estate). PV444 is Sweden’s best sold car.
  • 1954: Volvo P1800 (also known as Volvo Sport) introduced.
  • 1955: export-plans to the North-American market are being developed.
  • 1956: 100.000th PV444 is produced. Introduction of Volvo at the USA-market. Volvo Amazon introduced (P1200). Gunnar Engellau becomes the new Managing Director.

Volvo PV 444 USA export 1957
Volvo PV 444s are loaded on a boat for the overseas export to the USA

  • 1957: production of the Amazon started. Anchor points for front (two-point) seatbelts standard on all models. P1900 out of production after only 67 cars being produced.
  • 1958: Volvo PV544 introduced. Anchor points for rear seatbelts standard on all models.
  • 1959: three-point seatbelts standard for Amazon and PV544 on Swedish market. Plans for a new factory at Gothenburg are being realised.
  • 1960: introduction of the P1800 and P210 Duett. Insurance company Volvia is set up.
  • 1961: production of the P1800 started, with the brand new B18-engine. Two-door version (131) of the Amazon launched.
  • 1962: Amazon Combi launched. 100.000th Amazon is produced. B18-engine for the Volvo PV 544.
  • 1963: first foreign factory opened in Halifax (Canada). US-market is Volvo’s biggest export market.
  • 1964: new plant in Torslanda opened. Medical experts will help Volvo developing better seats for all Volvo-cars (first version introduced in the Amazon).
  • 1965: Volvo PV 544 out of production, Ghent (Belgium) plant opened.
  • 1966: Volvo 144 launched with a lot of safety improvements: collapsible steering column, new type of three-point seatbelts, energy-absorbing crumple zone, L-splitted (dual-circuit) brake system.
  • 1967: Volvo introduces the first rear-facing child seat.
  • 1968: Volvo 164 introduced. Introduction of headrests. Volvo assembly plant opened in Malaysia.

Volvo 144 1968
Volvo 144

  • 1969: Volvo Duett (P210) out of production and replaced by the Volvo 145 Express. Planning begins for a new proving ground in Hällered. Volvo buys Svenska Stalpressnings (which already was the supplier of bodies and bodyparts).
  • 1970: Volvo Amazon out of production. Volvo launches the Volvo Road Accident Research Team for investigating accidents with Volvos and help increasing safety. Volvo produces its two-millionth car. First sponsorship of Volvo (Volvo Open, a golf tournament).
  • 1971: Volvo 1800ES introduced (replaces the 1800E). Pehr Gyllenhammer becomes the new president. Volvo joins Peugeot and Renault developing a new V8-engine but is due the oil crisis soon changed to the PRV V6-engine.
  • 1972: Volvo buys 33% of dutch car company DAF. Volvo VESC introduced. Hazard warning lights and seatbelt reminders becomes available on all models.
  • 1973: Hällered proving ground is commissioned. US overtakes Sweden as biggest market.
  • 1974: introduction of the Volvo 240 and 260. New factory in Kalmar (Sweden).
  • 1975: Volvo becomes the biggest shareholder of DAF and DAF becomes Volvo Car BV. DAF 66 becomes Volvo 66.

Volvo 66
Volvo 66

  • 1976: Volvo 343 launched. The Volvo 240 sets the safety standard in the USA by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Three-way catalytic converter with lambda sensor introduced.
  • 1977: Volvo 240 Jubileum to celebrate Volvo’s 50th birthday. Volvo 262c Bertone launched. Volvo’s first environmental concept car presented: a small two-seater electrical car. Plans to merge Saab and Volvo were cancelled (Saab-Scania didn’t support it).
  • 1978: booster seat for children up to 12 introduced. Volvo Safety Concept Car (VSCC) presented. Volvo Car Corporation is the new name of the car division and is now a subsidiary of Volvo AB. Hakan Frisinger becomes the president of the new car company.
  • 1979: Volvo’s first car with diesel-engine is introduced: the Volvo 240 with Volkswagen D24-engine. Renault and Volvo will work together for R&D and Renault takes a minority stake in Volvo Car Corporation.
  • 1980: first Turbo-model (240 Turbo) introduced. Volvo Concept Car presented (and has a lot of elements which will appear in the new Volvo 700-series).
  • 1981: the one-millionth Volvo for the US-market is produced. Volvo is the most imported car in the USA. The Dutch state takes 70% of the stake in Volvo Car BV (Netherlands) and Volvo Car Corporation keeps 30%.
  • 1982: Volvo 760 introduced. Five million pressed body-components were produced by the steel plant, mainly for Volvo-cars.
  • 1983: Light Component Project (LCP 2000) presented, four concept cars for future ideas.

Volvo LCP 2000 concept car
The Volvo LCP 2000 concept car

  • 1984: Volvo 740 launched. Arizona Proving Ground opened (to test cars in extreme hot conditions). Roger Holtback becomes the new president of Volvo Car Corporation. Frisinger becomes president of the Volvo Group.
  • 1985: Volvo 480 and 780 launched. The 480 is the first Volvo with frontwheeldrive (FWD).
  • 1986: Volvo becomes the leader in estate models in its size class.
  • 1987: ABS available for 740 and 480. Introduction of the Multilink rear suspension. Volvo has its 60th birthday and celebrates it with a car parade through Gothenburg.
  • 1988: Volvo 440 introduced. Four-valve per cilinder-technology introduced at the Volvo 740 GLT 16 Valve. New plant in Uddevalla opened and work started on the new paintshop at the Torslanda-plant (the paintshop should be the cleanest in the world).
  • 1989: Volvo 460 introduced. The Experimental Safety Verhicle Conference is held for the first time. SIPS and integrated child seat introduced. Nils Bohlin (inventor of the three-point safety belt) is elected to the US Safety and Health Hall of Fame.
  • 1990: Volvo 940 and 960 launched. Mechanical seatbelt tensioners standard on the 900-series. Three-point rear centre seat introduced. Lennart Jeansson becomes the new president.
  • 1991: Volvo 850 introduced with 5-cilinder engine, very small gearbox, Deltalink rear suspension and self-adjusting front seatbelts. New joint-venture between Volvo, the Dutch state and Mitsubishi called Nedcar (which replaces Volvo Car BV).
  • 1992: SIPS for 740, 940 and 960. Volvo ECC hybrid prototype presented.

Volvo ECC concept car 1992
Volvo ECC

  • 1993: Volvo 850 Estate and 850 Turbo introduced. Volvo 240 production has ended. The proposed merge between Volvo and Renault was cancelled. The Volvo-boardmembers resigns and Per-Erik Mohlin becomes the new president.
  • 1994: Volvo 850 T-5R introduced. Kalmar-plant closed. Volvo enters the BTCC with a 850 Estate.
  • 1995: Volvo S40 and V40 introduced and will be produced in Born (the Netherlands) at Nedcar. Volvo 480 production has ended. Tuve Johannesson becomes the new president of Volvo Car Corporation.
  • 1996: Volvo 440 and 460 productions has ended. 850 Bi-Fuel and 850 AWD (Volvo’s first all wheeldrive-car) introduced. Introductions of the Volvo S70, V70 and C70. Volvo 960 renamed to S90 (saloon) and V90 (estate). Volvo’s ten-millionth car is produced.
  • 1997: C70 convertible and V70 XC (Cross Country) launched.
  • 1998: Volvo S80 introduced, with Inflatable Curtain system, Whiplash protection system (WHIPS) and Environmental Product Declaration. Volvo S90, V90 and 940 went all out of production.
  • 1999: PremAir-system for the S80: a coating on the radiator which turns ozone into oxygen. Ford acquires Volvo.
  • 2000: introduction of the S60, V70 and V70 XC. Three concept cars are presented: the Adventure Concept Car (ACC), the Safety Concept Car (SCC) and Performance Concept Car 1 (PCC1). Volvo Cars Safety Centre is opened in Torslanda. Introduction of Isofix. Hans-Olov Olsson becomes the new president and Nedcar is now only owned by Mitsubishi.

Volvo SCC concept car
Volvo SCC concept car, which actually is a prototype for the C30

  • 2001: introduction of the D5 diesel-engines: Volvo’s first own diesel-engine for cars. Haldex AWD-coupling introduced at the S60. Adventure Concept Car 1 presented.
  • 2002: Volvo XC90 presented. S60R and V70R introduced. Adventure Concept Car 2 and Performance Concept Car 2 were also presented.
  • 2003: S40 and V50 launched. Volvo Versatility Concept Car (VCC) presented.
  • 2004: Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) launched. V8-engine (designed by Volvo, build by Yamaha) for XC90. Three new concept cars: YCC (Your Concept Car, developed by females), 3CC and Tandem.
  • 2005: new Volvo C70 launched. Pininfarina takes over the management of the Uddevalla-plant and will built the C70. Fredrik Arp becomes the new president
  • 2006: Volvo C30 and new S80 launched. Local production in China started. Introduction of City Safety system.
  • 2007: Volvo XC60, V70 and XC70 introduced. ReCharge-concept presented (a C30 Plug-in hybrid).
  • 2008: Volvo DRIVe-models introduced (including start-stop system) with very clean diesel-engines.
  • 2009: new Volvo S60 introduced, with many new safety systems like Pedestrian Detection. Ford is forced to sell Volvo due economic situation.
  • 2010: Volvo Car Corporation sold to Geely. new engines: D2, D3, T3, T4 and T6. Plans announced to build a large plant in China.
  • 2011: Volvo announces the Pininfarina/Uddevalla-plant will be closed after the current C70 will be out of production (2013). Volvo Universe and You concept cars presented.

 

Volvo Concept Universe Volvo Concept You
The Volvo Universe and You concept cars. The future of Volvo?

 

© Volvotips 2011

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