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The name Volvo, derived from the Latin for "I roll," was thought to be a good trademark for a ball bearing as well as for an automobile.
Volvo was originally formed as a subsidiary company to the ball bearing maker SKF. It was not until 1935 when Volvo AB was introduced on the Swedish stock exchange that SKF sold most of the shares in the company. Volvo Cars was owned by AB Volvo until 1999, when it was acquired by the Ford Motor Company as part of its Premier Automotive Group along with Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin.
Volvo produces models ranging from SUVs, wagons, and sedans to compact executive sedans and coupes. It competes directly with manufacturers such as Acura, Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Infiniti, Lancia, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Saab. With 2,500 dealerships worldwide in 100 markets; 60 percent of sales come from Europe, 30 percent from North America, and the other 10 percent is from the rest of the world.
Volvo's market share is shrinking in the North American market. On the contrary, Volvo increases its market share in new markets such as Russia, China and India. Specifically, Volvo expected sales in Russia to double and exceed 20,000 units by the end of 2007, making Russia one of the ten biggest markets for the company. Volvo already boasts the leading position in Russia's luxury car segment.
Older models were often compared to tractors, partially because Volvo AB was and still is a manufacturer of heavy equipment, earlier Bolinder-Munktell, now Volvo Construction Equipment. Considered by some to be slow and heavy, they earned the distinction "brick" as term of endearment for the classic, block-shaped Volvo. With the more powerful turbo charged variants known as "turbobricks". More recent models have moved away from the boxy styles favored in the 1970s and 1980s and built a reputation for sporting performance. But not before the phenomenal success of factory supported Volvo 240 turbos winning both the 1985 European Touring Car Championship (ETC) & 1986 Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC). Most recently a 850 series wagon won top honors at the 1995 British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).
Owners are often proud of achieving prodigious mileages with one well documented 1965 Volvo P1800S having been driven over 2.6 million miles. According to some figures the average age of a Volvo being discarded is second only to Mercedes at 19.8 years. Reliability is considered better than average and in the USA Volvo dealers are listed by Forbes as one of the best among all car makers (9th) and luxury car makers (6th).
Check out the Volvo wallpapers and Volvo Pictures (pics) collection below: