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Happy birthday to Volvo - 85 years old

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April 13, 2012

85 years later - to the minute - happy birthday to the company that focussed on automotive safety long before it became fashionable

85 years later - to the minute - happy birthday to the company that focussed on automotive safety long before it became fashionable

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Well known Swedish automotive icon Volvo is celebrating its 85th birthday, albeit these days owned by Chinese manufacturer Geely. At 10am on this day (April 14) in 1927, the first mass-produced Volvo ÖV4 was driven off the production line and through the company gates in Göteborg. At 10am today, exactly 85 years later, the same car will pass through the same gates.

The meanderings in fortunes of many of the world's best known businesses make fascinating reading, and Volvo has a remarkable story to tell.

The name "Volvo" was registered more than 100 years ago (May, 1911) by another well-known Swedish company - SKF - the producer of ball bearings.

Volvo actually means "I roll" in Latin, conjugated from "volvere", and the intention was to use the name as a brand of SKF ball bearings.

As luck would have it, the company stuck with the SKF name for its bearings and today enjoys a reputation as fine as that of its offspring, being by far the largest manufacturer of bearings in the world.

The name was pulled off the shelf for an SKF venture 16 years later when it decided to produce specially-made cars designed for the unique conditions experienced on Sweden's rough and often frozen roads. The necessary robust and durable nature of Volvo vehicles stood it in good stead, and the brand represents safety and quality to this day.

Indeed, Volvo's most enduring legacy and a hallmark of its brand values, is that it focused its designs and research on automotive safety long before it became necessarily fashionable.

Volvo developed the modern three-point seat-belt and introduced it in 1959 as standard equipment. By even the most conservative of estimates, the three-point seat-belt has saved at least a million human lives.

Volvo Group is now one of the world's largest manufacturers of commercial vehicles and the Geely-owned Volvo Car Corporation sells almost 500,000 cars each year.

Happy birthday to Volvo!

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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5 Comments

The name "Volvo" was registered by SKF. Every Swede knows the Latin meaning of Volvo, but amazingly enough, I, as a Swede, didn't know that it was SKF (Svenska Kullagerfabriken, The Swedish Ball Bearing Factory) that once upon a time registered the name Volvo. It makes perfect sense though, more so than giving a car that name.

Knutars

Boring and built to stay that way except the c-30

Bill Bennett

Happy birthday to one of my favorite car brands. I"m a huge fan of their safe, practical, good performing vehicles! Nothing brings a bigger smile to my face than showing muscle car owners the tail lights of my wagon.

Michael Wilson

'I Roll' indeed! A mate and I built a couple of Volvo 140 rally cars back in the '90's. both of them got rolled. Still, if youre going to chuck a car into the scenery, a 140 is a pretty good thing to do it in- strong as a tank!

Gearhead

Funny, even though they were driving on the left 85 years ago, they were producing LH drive cars.

jholman
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