Few automakers are as synonymous with as safety as Volvo, a Swedish premium brand known for its dedication to research and innovation in the field of passenger protection. Though sedate, boxy models were once its bread and butter, these days Volvo is placing is a greater emphasis on style and driver engagement than ever before.
Volvo's origins date back to 1927, when it was founded by Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larsson in Gothenburg, Sweden. Volvo...
- its name means "I roll" in Latin - was created with safety as a guiding principle, and that directive has remained of prime importance throughout the company's existence.
In its early years, Volvo concentrated on building sedans and convertibles geared towards Sweden's rugged terrain, but by 1956 it was exporting to what would soon become a key market- the United States. Soon afterwards, it introduced the industry's first three-point seat belts, one of many safety innovations to come.
Front and rear crumple zones, collapsible steering columns and padded dashboards are just a few of the technologies that Volvo introduced to the automotive world in the following decades. Though the vast majority of its sales came from conservative sedans and station wagons, every once in a while Volvo would surprise the world with an attractive coupe like the classic P1800 of 1960s and the Italian-designed 780 of the 1980s.
By the 1990s, Volvo was looking to distance itself from its stodgy styling past and decided to focus on sleeker, more offerings like the S40 and C70. Another big change came in 1998, when Ford purchased the brand. The relationship proved to be mutually beneficial, with Volvo furnishing Ford with safety technologies and vehicle architectures in exchange for funding.
After Ford ran into financial difficulties following the global financial crisis, the Blue Oval decided to sell Volvo to Chinese automaker Geely in 2010. The two are currently co-developing Geely-badged vehicles that will eventually launch in both China and the United States, but in the meantime expect Volvo to continue to focus on style and safety in equal measures.