It’s clear why Gothenburg. Here, in the southwest of Sweden, is the headquarters of Volvo Cars. The weather in Gothenburg at Christmas is not at all winter: instead of snow, rain, instead of minus - plus. But there are no special reasons for the Volvans to be upset. After the company came under the control of the Chinese holding Geely, Volvo increased production, returned some of the workers laid off due to the crisis, and even became profitable. People from Volvo say that Chinese owners do not intervene in management. And the fact that they will build a factory in China is for the local market. Another Chinese production facility, the engine plant, will help the Swedish company produce not 440 thousand cars by 2020, as it is now, but as many as 800 thousand.
At Volvo headquarters in Gothenburg, we were told about the bright future of the Swedish brand
At Volvo headquarters in Gothenburg, we were told about the bright future of the Swedish brand At Volvo headquarters in Gothenburg, we were told about the bright future of the Swedish brand
Volvo's immediate plans include the launch of the company's first diesel-electric hybrid V60 Plug-in Hybrid and the premiere of the compact V40 hatchback / station wagon, which will be presented to the world at the March Geneva Motor Show. By the way, I saw the first drafts of this compact made on a common platform with the C30 a couple of years ago, here in the rainy winter Gothenburg. The Swedes have also prepared a surprise for the Russian public - in March, as part of Volvo Fashion Week in Moscow, they will show a design concept.
A surprise awaited us too - a real crash test of the Volvo XC70 station wagon. The event is reassuring: after all, on the XC70 we will move from Gothenburg to the east towards Stockholm. Now we know for sure that the XC70 can be relied upon for anything. I will not speak in detail about how Volvo cares about our safety with you. Colleagues from the magazine “Behind the Wheel” have already described everything in detail. I can only recall that, thanks in large part to the efforts of the Swedes, today's cars are 5 times safer than those that drove through the streets in the 70s. And by 2020 already mentioned, Volvo has set a goal: to bring to zero the death rate in cars of the Swedish brand.
Volvo showed us a real crash test XC70
Volvo showed us a real XC70 crash test Volvo showed us a real XC70 crash test
From headquarters we move to the Volvo Museum, located on the outskirts of Gothenburg. Volvo Cars and Volvo Trucks, a manufacturer of trucks and buses, have been living apart for quite some time - since the late 80s, but they still have a common museum. So here you can see …
… and the very first passenger car Volvo …
Volvo history begins with this car
The history of Volvo began with this car. The history of Volvo began with this car.
…. and the very first fire truck …
Baby, the firemen came for you here
Baby, the firemen came for you here! Baby, the firemen came for you here!
… and the very first bus …
Such buses once traveled around Gothenburg
Once upon a time such buses traveled to Gothenburg Once such buses traveled to Gothenburg
And a lot of interesting concept cars, including the "female" Your Concept Car. As with safety belts and the catalyst, Volvo has also been at the forefront in the area of gender equality. Today, the active participation of women in the development of automobiles does not surprise anyone. Suffice it to recall the latest generation of the BMW Z4. For me, the revelation was that Swedish cars, even during left-hand traffic (until the end of the 60s) produced cars with the usual left-hand drive. This was due to the fact that many cars were exported.
Volvo YCC - a concept designed only by women
Volvo YCC - a concept that only women designed Volvo YCC - a concept that only women designed
Sweden is generally a female country. Half of the parliament are women. True, the Swedish family seems to exist only in Russia. Just like a buffet and a buffet wall. A lot of adults live here alone. And if married, then in the unofficial, which here is called the ridiculous word "sambo". By the way, if people disagree, but do not want to get divorced, for this the Swedes also have their own term - “Serbo”. Well, if an adult son or daughter continues to live with their parents, then this is completely “mambo”.
Swedes do not respect Russian folk Carlson
Russian folk Carlson is not held in high esteem among Swedes Russian folk Carlson is not held in high esteem among Swedes
Well, the traditional story that the Swedes from the characters of Astrid Lindgren prefer Pippi Longstocking, rather than our idol Carlson. Swedes are not held in high esteem, although paid vacation in the country is an unrealistic 6 weeks. Volvo designer Mexican Jose Diaz de la Vega in the first years after moving to Sweden even felt guilty: how can you relax for so long? Do not worry, Jose, go to Japan. There you will not be allowed to relax for a month and a half.
Scandinavian design created by people from Mexico
Scandinavian design created by people from Mexico Scandinavian design created by people from Mexico
By the way, Mr. de la Vega reminded us that today Volvo relies not only on safety and environmental friendliness, as in the old days, but also makes premium cars. That the country of victorious Scandinavian socialism is not easy. However, Scandinavian luxury is not diamonds on the center console and not a body covered with gold leaf. Luxury in Sweden should be as functional, innovative and user-friendly as the Scandinavian design. And naturally, modest.
Finally, having familiarized ourselves with the past and the present Volvo Cars, we get into cars to drive to Stockholm. All cars of the most popular XC-series in Russia - XC60, XC70 and XC90. Although the roads in Sweden are good, four-wheel drive never hurts.
Going Christmas Sweden from Gothenburg to Stockholm
Going Christmas Sweden from Gothenburg to Stockholm Going Christmas Sweden from Gothenburg to Stockholm
XC90 - a well-deserved model. Since the 2012 model year, all the “nineties” received LED daytime running lights and brake lights, body-colored moldings and bumpers. And also disks of new design. In the cabin there is a new sports steering wheel, another instrument lighting and aluminum trim. There are no changes in the technical part. This is understandable: after all, in 2014 a new model will appear.
The XC60 and XC70 are the opposite: there are no external changes, but there are imperceptible at first glance. The diesel D5 on the XC60 has become 10 more powerful and now develops 215 hp. and 440 Nm of torque. At the same time, the consumption of diesel fuel should decrease to 6.8 liters per 100 km in the combined cycle. The XC70 has a Volvo Sensus information system that allows you to control all systems, including City Safety, with the buttons on the steering wheel. Another piece of news: the XC70 with the D3 base diesel engine (163 hp) is now available in four-wheel drive versions.
All XC70 systems can now be controlled on the steering wheel
All XC70 systems can now be controlled on the steering wheel All XC70 systems can now be controlled on the steering wheel
We leave the museum darkly at “seventies” in the evening to get to the small town of Wadsten on the shore of Lake Vettern and settle there in a real monastery. Of course, we did not live in cells, and the night pots in the rooms were a purely decorative detail. For dinner from medieval dishes, we are convincingly asked to put on monastic robes.
To eat monastic food, you need to dress in a cassock
To eat monastic food, you need to dress in a cassock To eat monastic food, you need to dress in a cassock
But there are no monks in Sweden for a long time, since King Gustav Vasa introduced the Reformation in the country in the 16th century. King Gustav I often visited the Wadsten Castle, although he himself lived in Stockholm. Today, royal power in Sweden is purely nominal, but the attitude towards current and former monarchs is the most respectful. Probably also because modern kings live as modestly as ordinary Swedes.
The former residence of the Swedish kings in Wadsten is now a museum
The former residence of the Swedish kings in Wadsten is now a museum The former residence of the Swedish kings in Wadsten is now a museum
Modest does not mean boring. On the way from Wadstena to Stockholm, we looked at the Visualization Center in Norrköping. In short: this is an attempt to make any information visual. In the domed hall, they show a movie about the device of the world, and on the screens they “cut” the body to find out why a person died in an accident. A way that Volvo will come in handy when examining statistics on fatal accidents.
Swedes make information clear
Swedes make information visual Swedes make information visual
Fortunately, we did not have to test the safety of Volvo cars in business - and after a wonderful visualization in Norrköping, we safely reached Stockholm Christmas. Souvenir bazaars, winter charcoal (mulled wine type drink) and wonderful architecture. There is no point talking a lot about Stockholm - you have to go here. To see all the sights and visit all 70-odd museums on 14 islands, one or two days is clearly not enough.