Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Volvo has made all manner of vehicles over the course of its long history, including coupes, convertibles, hatchbacks, sedans, wagons and SUVs. But the vehicle that started it all was the PV444.
Or rather, we should say, the PV444 is what re-started it all. Because while it wasn't Volvo's first model, it was the first one it produced after the war. Monday, September 1, will mark 70 years since the PV444 first debuted at the Royal Tennis Hall in Stockholm pictured above, where the company received 148,437 visitors.
That presentation there took place shortly before the end of World War II when the vehicle wasn't even finished yet. A team of 40 engineers and designers were still fine-tuning the final version, but were eager to show the public what it would start building after the last bullet was fired and peace would return to Europe.
If everything goes to plan, Volvo might be showing the first signs of a turnaround after several years coping with old products and a staid image. The Swedish brand is imminently launching its next-gen XC90 SUV on a completely revised, modular platform and using a cutting-edge family of engines, and it has even more products to take advantage of the fresh components on the drawing board. "We are excited about the launch of the all-new XC90, which marks the beginning of the re-launch of the Volvo brand," said CEO Håkan Samuelsson in the company's announcement. In the meantime, the business is moving back to profitability and is even forecasting growth through the rest of 2014.
In Volvo's recently released financial and sales results for the first six months of the year, volume was up 9.5 percent to 299,013 cars. On top of that, operating income reached 1.21 billion Swedish krona ($175 million) after posting a loss in the same period in 2013. Net income was also improved to 535 million Swedish krona ($77.4 million), which was also a reversal from a negative last year.
With these great results, Volvo is now forecasting 10 percent sales growth worldwide by the end of the year, and the key to it is a booming market in some regions. China, home to parent company Geely, was up 34.4 percent first half of the year. It's now Volvo's biggest market in the world and helped by exclusive models like the S60L (pictured above) and S80L. "We are growing our presence in China and we expect to sell at least 80,000 cars there this year," said Samuelsson in the company's forecast.
A Chinese automotive site has snagged the first spy shots of the updated Volvo XC60, completely uncovered. While the overall profile of the vehicle remains intact, the headlights are heavily revised. Gone are the two-piece units, which featured the separate light strip between the main cluster and the grille. In place now are larger lenses, somewhat reminiscent of those found on the S60 sedan. Also updated is the grille, which gets a little wider to meet the new headlights. The grille receives more chrome, while the lower front fascia has been revised with wider openings. A pair of LED fog lights are pushed way out to the corners.
Out back, the license plate holder gets a bold chrome strip above it, and the recessed exhaust is replaced with chromed, dual exhaust outlets that have been integrated into the bottom of the rear bumper.
Inside, the instrument panel has been revised, with a large, centrally mounted speedo, featuring a digital display in the center. According to reports, this is a similar setup to that of the new V40. As such, it appears that the changes are thoughtful efforts to move the XC60 forward by incorporating the most current Volvo design elements.