Volvo History and Timeline

by: Alexandra M.

1924 – Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson decide to start car production

1926 – The operation shifts to Gothenburg and the company moves into the disused Nordiska Kullager AB factory on Hisingen.

1927 – At about 10 am on 14 April 1927, the first series built Volvo, the ÖV4, is driven out of the factory by Hilmer Pettersson.

1928 – The Volvo PV4, a closed version of the ÖV4, is launched. The first truck, the Series 1, built on the ÖV4 chassis, leaves the factory. The first Volvo bus is presented.

1929 – The first 6-cylinder Volvo engine, named “DB”, is introduced.

1930 – Majority shares in Pentaverken, Skövde, acquired. The remaining shares are purchased in 1935 – Volvo gets its own engine factory.

1931 – Volvo’s first 6 cylinder passenger car is presented, the Volvo PV 651. It was a 3 litre engine (3010 cc) and the output was 55 hp at 3000 rpm. The transmission was a 3 speed with floor gear level, it had drums brakes in all wheels and weighted approx. 3310 lbs with a wheelbase of 116in.

1933 – The PV 653 (Standard) and PV 654 (De Luxe) are introduced. The 654 De Luxe version had twin spares and reversing light and was available in several colours. The engine was an in-line 6-cylinder with side valves, 3266cc and 65 bhp at 3200 rpm. The transmission was a 3 speed with floor gear level and free wheel, it had hydraulic drums brakes in all wheels and weighted approx. 3925 lbs with a wheelbase of 116in. 230 units of the PV 653 and 361 units of the PV 654 were built in 1933 – 1934.

1934 – The Volvo TR 704, a longer wheelbase with 7 seats buil for taxi purposes is launched.

1935 – After five consecutive years of profit, SKF feels it is time to list the company on the stock exchange. Buying shares in Volvo soon becomes popular among regular wage-earners. The Volvo PV36 Carioca, with independent front suspension, is launched.

1936 – The PV 50 Series is introduced.

1939 – World War Two starts and Volvo switches production to wartime material, including mass manufacture of producer gas units.

1941 – A majority shareholding in Svenska Flygmotor is acquired by Volvo (the remainer is acquired in 1969). Volvo Flygmotor became Volvo Aero in 1994 and was sold to GKN in 2012.

1942 – Volvo purchases gearbox supplier Köpings Mekaniska Werkstad.

1944 – The iconic PV444 model is unveiled in Stockolm. The PV 60 is launched.

1946 – The first diesel-powered truck is launched in the spring, followed in the autumn by a diesel powered bus.

1949 – For the first time since 1927 Volvo produces more cars than buses and trucks.

1950 – Volvo acquires Bolinder-Munktell in Eskilstuna and transfers all production of tractors and other agricultural machines there.

1953 – Volvo’s first series-produced estate car, the PV445 / P210 “Duett”, is launched.

1954 – Volvo first sports car, the Volvo P1900 is launched. Volvo BM in Eskilstuna introduces the innovative rear-end loader.

1955 – Nils Sefeldt symbolises Volvo’s daring decision to start exporting cars to the USA by driving through the hurricane-hit country with his entire family in the car.

1956 – On 13 August Assar Gabrielsson hands over the title of President to Gunnar Engellau, until then the head of Volvo Flygmotor. Engellau starts building the modern Volvo. Volvo first “pontoon body” car the Amazon (or P121 / 122) is launched.

1959 – Volvo’s most important invention, the standard-fit three-point safety belt is introduced, which has saved millions of lives since then.

1961 – The production of the Volvo P1800 is started.

1962 – The estate version of the Amazon series, the P220, is launched.

1964 – On 24 April the enormous factory in Torslanda is inaugurated by King Gustaf VI Adolf. By September Volvo has built one million cars and a million gearboxes.

1965 – Volvo continues its huge investment in Europe with a factory in Ghent, creating Volvo Europa N.V..

1966 – Volvo BM in Eskilstuna introduces one of the company’s most important new features ever – the articulated hauler known in Sweden as “Grus-Kalle”

1969 – Volvo acquires Svenska Stalpressnings AB in Olofström – which today is Volvo Factory in Olofström

1971 – Pehr Gustaf Gyllenhammar succeeds Gunnar Engellau as President and CEO. The Volvo P1800ES is launched.

1972 – Volvo purchases Dutch DAF’s car division. The company gets its third core value when Environment is added to the already established Safety and Quality.

1974 – The new Volvo 240 (and 260) is regarded as the world’s safest car and in 1976 is labelled the “norm for automotive safety” in the USA.

1975 – Volvo opens its own truck factory in Ghent, Belgium.

1976 – Volvo introduces the world-first Lambda probe and three-way catalytic converter for regulation of car exhaust emissions.

1980 – Volvo merges with Beijerinvest and is restructured as Investment AB Volvo Beijer. Imeense diversification is initiated. Procordia and Farmacia are acquired. Volvo inaugurates a truck factory in Brazil.

1981 – Volvo acquires American truck maker White.

1982 – Volvo Trucks inaugurates a new factory in Tuve on the island of Hisingen. The Lundby factory is closed down. The Volvo 760 is launched. Together with the 740, which arrices in 1984, it becomes a major sales success.

1986 – Volvo acquires General Motors heavy truck manufacturing operation in the USA. Volvo purchases Leyland BUS in the UK.

1990 – The biggest news ever in Swedish indutry – Volvo and Renault start an alliance with the aim of merging the two companies. In November Pehr G Gyllenhammar announces his successor, Christer Zetterberg, Gyllenhammar remains an active board chairman.  A 1930s-scale crisis hits Volvo. Over a period of several years, the payroll decreases by 20.000 people.

1991 – What was then Volvo Group’s single investment ever, the Volvo 850, is presented.

1993 – After seven years of development, Volvo Trucks unveils its biggest news ever, the Volvo FH12/16. On 5 May 1993 leaves the factory, after 19 years and 2.8 million cars. The planned merger with Renault is stopped.

1994 – Volvo’s new strategy, presented by Sören Gyll, involves a return to core operations in the transport and automotive industries. A process to divest from other operations is started.

1995 – Volvo C70 Coupe is presented in Paris.

1997 – Leif Johansson replaces Sören Gyll as President of Volvo.

1999 – Volvo sells its car division to Ford for 50 billion kronor. Volvo invests in Scania.

2000 – Volvo Cars become part of the Ford Premir Automotive Group together with Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover. The planned acquisition of Scania fails and instead Renault V.I. and its subsidiary Mack are purchased. Volvo Cars inaugurates a new Safety Centre in Gothenburg.

2002 – Volvo Cars presents its first SUV, the Volvo XC90, and its High-Performance S60R and V70R models.

2003 – Volvo Trucks reveals plans to build a factory in Russia.

2004 – Volvo Penta introduces its biggest new product feature since 1959, the IPS propulsion system.

2007 – Volvo purchases Japanese truck maker Nissan Diesel.

2008 – Volvo initiates a joint venture with Indian truck and bus manufacturer Eicher.

2010 – On 28 March 2010 it is announced that China’s Zheijang Geely Holding Group and Ford Motor Company have agreed on a Chinese takeover of Volvo Cars. The Volvo FMX construction truck is launched.

2011 – Olof Persson succeeds Leif Johansson as AB Volvo President and CEO.

2012 – AB Volvo sells Volvo Aero to Britain’s GKN. Volvo Trucks launches a new generation of its flagship Volvo FH, featuring a wide range of improvement, not least in safety, economy, environment and ergonomics.

2013 – Volvo Cars builds three factories in China.

2014 – Volvo Cars introduces an entirely new version of the hugely succesful XC90.

2015 – Martin Lundstedt replaces Olof Persson as President and CEO of AB Volvo