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A Brief History of Volvo

Derived from the latin for “I Roll,” Volvo’s name is a fitting one. The company was founded on April 14, 1927 by Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larsson. Their first car, “Jakob,” was created in Gothenburg, Sweden that same year. During that first year in business, Volvo only put out a total 280 vehicles.

Due to Sweden’s inclement weather, the company initially focused their designs solely on close top and cabriolet models of the OV4 and PV4 Jakobs. They proved to sell extremely well in the area as they were able to withstand the Swedish climate far better than the American import counterparts. Those first models included the Swedish symbol for iron on the grille of the cars that has since gone on to become the company’s official logo.

Then, in 1929, Volvo unveiled its six-cylinder PV651 model that was significantly larger than the original Jakob. It was a massive success. So much so that its profits allowed Volvo to acquire its first factory and in 1931, shareholders of the company were able to see their first returns. By May of 1932, the company had produced 10,000 vehicles.

When World War II broke out, Volvo’s production had to be scaled way back. It wasn’t until 1944 that Volvo was able to kick production back into high-gear. They did this with the reveal of their first small car, the PV444.

Volvo’s PV444 took the stylings of American vehicles and fused it with the small car design so frequently seen throughout Europe in those days – it was a hit. The PV444, along with its PV544 successor, became the company’s main products all the way through the 60’s and even gained Volvo a foothold in the US during the 50’s. It was in 1959 that the PV544 introduced the world to the now standard three-point seat belt.

In 1960, Volvo crossed over into sports car territory with the unveiling of the P1800. The car itself was an impressive feat of engineering, but it was its prominence in the TV show The Saint starring Roger Moore that would cement its place in history.

Over the coming decades, Volvo proved itself to be an innovator in the area of both safety and environmental friendliness. Later Volvo models brought about safety features that are still widely used including rear facing child seats, crumple zones, side collision protection, collapsible steering columns, and the three-way catalytic converter.

Unfortunately, after a failed merger with Renault in 1993, the company was eventually bought by Ford in 1999. Despite this, the company has continued to post lackluster sales and has continued falling further into debt every year since 2005.

In 2010, Volvo Cars was acquired by Geely Holding.

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