If you think a Volvo is about as safe as a history teacher’s chastity, and about as sexy as a history teacher, you’re not alone. The Swedish brand has become synonymous with safety over the years, but that had started to affect its popularity – kind of like the kid who brought inflatable armbands to the school gala.
Sales were tanking and Ford, who bought the company for 6.5 billion dollars in 1999 decided that it wanted to try to recoup some of its investment, and thus decided to sell. That is how Geely, the Chinese motor company, came to own Volvo in 2010, having acquired the company for just 1.8 billion dollars.
Li Shufu, the founder of Geely, saw potential where others saw about as much excitement as that offered by an airline safety leaflet. He felt that Volvo was hiding engineering brilliance behind a boxy, beige façade. He likened the company to a caged tiger at the zoo, and the time had come to unleash that tiger on the world.
Volvo XC90: The Uncaged Tiger
At first people were sceptical about the idea of Geely saving Volvo. The former is a manufacturer which creates cars whose low prices are matched only by their quality. The latter is a big name of engineering and safety precision. The concept was a bit like asking Jimmy Olsen to rescue Superman.
However, six years on, Volvo’s XC90 has just been voted the North American Truck of the Year for 2016. In addition, the company hit a record number of sales last year, selling a whopping 503,000 vehicles. This sales figure is the best in the company’s entire history, which spans 89 years. This in turn resulted in profits which more than tripled, raking in 776 million dollars.
Plans for the Future
This success is not enough for the ambitious Li Shufu, who wants the company to consistently sell more than 800,000 vehicles per year by the time 2020 rolls around. And, with a new plant opening in South Carolina that can produce 100,000 vehicles per year, this could very well be an achievable goal.
If there are still sceptics, they need only to look at the last six years’ worth of progress to know that Volvo is only headed from strength to strength – an incredible turnaround from the company that seemed doomed just half a decade ago.
Image credit: http://www.volvocars.com/za/cars/new-models/all-new-xc90