PAST AND PRESENT, VOLVO HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE FUTURE OF CARS
July 10, 2017
IN THE QUARTER century since Volvo rolled my ruby-red 240 wagon off an assembly line, its creator has gone from a modest Swedish independent automaker to part of a massive American conglomerate to an arm of a Chinese automaker that’s pushing driverless cars and racing to go fully electric in the next two years.
It’s been a funky journey for a funky automaker, but it’s no mere aberration or footnote. If you want to understand the car industry of the past 25 years—and maybe the next 25—study Volvo’s journey.
For a niche player best known for shuttling liberals and hippies, Volvo has long played an outsized role in the evolution of the auto industry. It invented and made standard the three-point seat belt. It tested the first rear-facing child seat in the '70s. More recently, it vowed to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries in all its cars by 2020, and just this week, it said that from 2019 onward, all its new cars will come with an electrical cord. Couple that with the fact a company that calls itself "the world's oldest startup" is owned by China's largest automaker, and it's safe bet Volvo will continue leading the way.