Founded in 1927 in Gothenberg, Sweden, Volvo (Swedish for “I roll”) manufactures sport utility vehicles to sedans, coupes to compacts — all featuring the carmakers’ emphasis on safety.
Volvo has introduced numerous new automotive technologies throughout its tenure, most notably laminated glass (1944), padded dash boards (1956), three-point safety belt (1959) central high-mounted stoplight (1986) and side impact airbags (1994).
During the 1960s, the P1800 sports car debuted and Volvo received international attention when actor Roger Moore in the television series The Saint drove it. But the carmaker was also at the safety forefront during the decade when it introduced padded dashboards and energy-resistant front and rear seat crumple zones.
In the 1970s, technology was again industry leading in Volvo models. Numerous new safety features debuted, including childproof locks, collapsible steering columns and rear-facing child seats.
Owned for more than 70 years by AB Volvo, the Swedish manufacturer has had two owners in slightly more than the last decade. The Ford Motor Company as part of their Premier Automotive Group acquired Volvo in 1998. Zhejiang Geely Holding Group then acquired Volvo from Ford in August 2010.
For 2011, Volvo has 10 models, three wagons, three sedans, two sport utility vehicles, one convertible and one coupe. The wagons include the V50, V70 and XC70, the sedans feature the S40, S60 and S80, the SUV offerings are the XC60 and XC 90, the lone convertible is the C70 and the C30 is the coupe.
The 2011 C30 has the lowest Volvo car price with a starting MSRP of $24,600. The starting MSRP of the C70 is $39,950, the highest car price in the Volvo line.
Volvo will also offer its first “green” vehicles. Beginning in 2012, for example, Volvo will offer a plug-in hybrid, combining electric power with a diesel hybrid power train.
According to the manufacturer, the car will offer ultra-low CO2 emissions, below 50 grams CO2 per kilometer. Volvo is also developing a new generation of gasoline and clean diesel engines.
Three 2011 Volvo models also received the highest rating in their respective segments from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS).
The organization rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests, a rollover test, plus evaluations of seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.
The S80 (large cars), C30 (midsize cars) and XC90 (midsize SUVs) were all named Top Safety Picks by the IIHS, meaning the vehicles received the top rating of good in each of the four safety categories.
Volvo’s safety standards complement its legacy for longevity. According to Volvo, one 1966 Volvo P1800 has been driven more than 2.8 million miles, a Guinness World Record for most miles driven by a single owner in a non-commercial vehicle.
Volvo vehicles also last an average of 19.8 year, second among all automakers globally.
Volvo has approximately 2,300 dealers from around 100 national sales companies worldwide. The United States is the carmaker’s largest market, followed by Sweden, Great Britain, Germany and China. Volvo predicts it will sell 380,000 cars globally in 2010.