The Volvo Group is a Swedish multinational manufacturing company headquartered in Gothenburg. While its core activity is the production, distribution and sale of trucks, buses and construction equipment, Volvo also supplies marine and industrial drive systems and financial services. In 2016, there are 94,914 of employees and it was the world’s second largest manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks in 2016. Although often conflated with the luxury vehicle manufacturer Volvo Cars, also based in Gothenburg, the two firms have been independent since AB Volvo sold Volvo Cars to Ford Motor Company in 1999. Since 2010, Volvo Cars has been owned by the Geely Holding Group, a Chinese multinational automotive manufacturing company. Both AB Volvo and Volvo Cars share the Volvo logo and cooperate in running the Volvo Museum. The chairman of Volvo Group is Carl-Henric Svanberg and the President and CEO of Volvo Group is Martin Lundstedt. The chairman of Volvo Car is Li Shufu and the President and CEO of Volvo Car is Hakan Samuelsson.
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Volvo was established in 1915 as a subsidiary of SKF, the ball bearing manufacturer; however the Volvo Group and Volvo Cars consider themselves to have been officially founded on 14 April 1927, when the first car, the Volvo OV 4 series, nicknamed as “Jakob”, rolled out of the factory in Hisingen, Gothenburg. In 1924, Assar Gabrielsson, an SKF sales manager, and a KTH Royal Institute of Technology educated engineer Gustav Larson, the two founders, decided to start construction of a Swedish car. They intended to build cars that could withstand the rigors of the country’s rough roads and cold temperatures. AB Volvo began activities on 10 August 1926. After one year of preparations involving the production of ten prototypes, the firm was ready to commence the car-manufacturing business within the SKF group. The Volvo Group itself considers it started in 1927, when the first Volvo car rolled off the production line at the factory in Gothenburg. Only 280 cars were built that year. The first truck, the “Series 1”, debuted in January 1928, as an immediate success and attracted attention outside the country. In 1930, Volvo sold 639 cars, and the export of trucks to Europe started soon after; the cars did not become well-known outside Sweden until after World War II. AB Volvo was introduced at the Stockholm Stock Exchange in 1935 and SKF then decided to sell its shares in the company.
Volvo Car Corporation was part of Ford Motor Company’s Premier Automotive Group, along with Jaguar, Aston Martin and Land Rover. While part of the PAG, the company grew in its range of vehicles significantly. When the global economic crisis of 2008 threatened the US automakers, Swedish authorities became concerned about the fate of Volvo if Ford would file for bankruptcy. These concerns mounted after repeated mass-layoffs at Volvo. Ford announced in December 2008 that it was considering selling Volvo Cars. Chinese company Geely Holding Group was ultimately selected to take over the Swedish automaker. Geely Group Holdings Co. allegedly bid about US$1.5 billion to take over Volvo, with Goldman Sachs investing 334 million USD in the holding company. Under Geely ownership, Volvo has refocused its product lineup. In 2015, Volvo sold more than half a million cars for the first time in its 89-year history. In July 2017, the automaker announced that beginning in 2019, all of its new models will include an electric motor in their powertrain. Implementation of the announcement could mean Volvo becoming the first manufacturer to end production of internal combustion-only vehicles, with all vehicles hybrid or electric powered. Between 2019 and 2021, Volvo plans to launch 3 electric cars under the Volvo brand and 2 more under the Polestar performance brand.
Volvo was also a proponent of autonomous vehicles. On 20 November 2017, Uber announced that it planned to buy up to 24,000 Volvo cars designed to accept autonomous technology between 2019 to 2021. This non-binding intent includes a plan for Uber Advanced Technologies Group to design and build the self-driving system in the XC90 SUV vehicles. In 2016, the two companies had announced that they planned to collaborate on the design and financing of cars with self-driving systems. Such vehicles require a different type of steering and braking mechanism, as well as sensors.