World of Volvo Debuts in OEM’s Hometown

Facility to Serve as Community, Business Center
World of Volvo Exterior
An exterior view of the World of Volvo, the new transportation center that pays homage to the company's past and hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden, with an eye on the future. (Joe Howard/Transport Topics)

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GOTHENBURG, Sweden — Executives from Volvo Trucks and Volvo Cars lifted the veil on the new World of Volvo city center with an April 8 VIP media tour, offering a sneak peek at a jointly run facility meant to serve as a community hub in the company’s hometown and stand as a place where the OEM can herald its future plans while honoring its past.

The facility, which will be open to the public, features an architectural design anchored by sculpted pillars that stretch from the ground floor up and define the design across the facility’s five floors. Made from Austrian wood, the curved pillars greet guests at the main entrance, which also features a vintage Volvo car.

While many more trucks and cars from Volvo’s past are displayed on the upper level, the head of the facility said World of Volvo’s key purpose is to “show the way where Volvo is leading to the future.” It will officially open April 14, the date of the company’s founding in 1927.

“We would like this to be a place where Gothenburg finds its way,” said Magnus Wrahme, CEO of the facility, during a Q&A session with global media that he led alongside other company executives. “Where tourists treat it as a destination they must see, where employees feel at home — because this is really the center of the brand — and, of course, customers, corporate guests and anyone who wants to visit here.”

Magnus Wrahme

World of Volvo CEO Magnus Wrahme talks to members of the media about paying homage to the company's past while keeping an eye on the future. (Joe Howard/Transport Topics)

Those visitors will have options. While there is no charge to visit the main area, there are plans for concerts in the facility’s performance hall and presentations in its many meeting rooms — most of which will carry a fee. There also will be a charge to access the historic vehicle area. Vehicles on display here were culled from Volvo’s now-shuttered museum. There also is onsite dining.

“We have plans for a fall [season] with interesting talks, with concerts and with subjects that we think matter,” Wrahme said, “where we can really show the way where Volvo is leading toward the future.”

While Wrahme suggested some events could be free, the facility is expected to generate self-supporting revenue.

“We have two very strong owners that want it to be a strong operation,” he said of the company’s car and truck divisions. “We have high expectations,” Volvo Trucks President Roger Alm good-naturedly quipped.

Architect and World of Volvo design director Martin Stenberg Ringnér described the project as the most “challenging and fun thing I have ever done” and said the building represents “a lot of passion, ambitions and also drive and courage from a client perspective.”

He added that designers endeavored to incorporate Volvo’s brand values into the project, and to have architects “work with that and [bring] that into a physical form and rooms.”

The location was once home to an amusement park. Earlier, it had been the site of a component factory for automaker Saab. Lamps that once were in that factory are now housed in World of Volvo.

Alm, who serves as a World of Volvo board member, said his division was proud to be partnering with Volvo Cars on the effort.

“World of Volvo is a lot,” he said. “It is big, it is sustainable, and it is a very, very important place. We are locating it in the middle part of Gothenburg where Volvo should be.” He noted that the company is nearing its 100th anniversary in 2027, and many people have and continue to work for Volvo in the city.

“It’s also a way to pay back all our employees that are employed by us and also those who have been employed by us,” Alm said, “but also to our customers. It’s also a [way of] thanks to the city of Gothenburg that we can do this, because here we can really present and show what Volvo is all about — our brand, our safety, our quality and care for the environment. And that is our core values for our operation.”

Alm added that Volvo plans to host product introductions from the facility and also handle customer deliveries of vehicles there. U.S. buyers of Volvo cars have the option to travel to Sweden to take delivery of their vehicles.

“This is going to be a very cool place where we have the opportunity to gather people and test our brand and products,” added Oscar Bertilsson Olsborg, head of commercial operations for Volvo Cars.

Volvo logging truck

A vintage logging truck on display at the World of Volvo honors the company's heritage. (Joe Howard/Transport Topics)

He noted that the car and truck businesses in about 2016 looked at the museum Volvo had at the time and felt that they wanted to do something different.

“We [wanted] to share our brand and show our brand in a better way,” he said. “This was a way to position ourselves together for the future.”

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