What Does the Volvo Name Mean and Where Does It Come From?

Volvo is a well-known Swedish automaker. Even if you’ve never owned a Volvo yourself, you likely know someone who has, or you are at least familiar with, some of the brand’s vehicles. Volvo continues to produce a wide variety of model cars and SUVs today.

As far as historic cars go, Volvo has some of the most iconic. The automaker has a rich history of producing reliable rides. And there is more to how its brand name came to fruition. So, where does the Volvo name come from anyway?

2023 Volovo V60 Recharge on a highway
V60 Recharge T8 | Volvo

Where Volvo began

Volvo’s heritage dates back to its inception in 1927. And as Volvo recounts, back then, no one else could make cars strong or durable enough for Swedish roads. Founded by Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larsson, this automaker would become one of the world’s most successful producers of commercial vehicles. And as Volvo Group describes, there have been a host of milestones, including 90 years of R&D achievements. In 1959, for example, Volvo pioneered the first three-point safety belt, innovating safety in cars.

That first year, as Companies History shared, only 280 cars were made at the Gothenburg factory. Today, Volvo sells more than 350,000 vehicles every year and enjoys a presence in 190 global markets.

But where did that name come from in the first place? It turns out it’s a story that points to marketing genius and a global vision.

What the name Volvo means and symbolizes

Volvo may have been “born” in 1927, but the name was originally conceived in 1915. And it wasn’t intended for cars. Rewind & Capture shares the details about how the brand name Volvo was initially slated for a new series of SKF ball bearings.

The two founders and parent organization behind SKF, in their quest to become automakers, circled back to the name Volvo for a few reasons. Ideally, they wanted a car name that could easily be pronounced and read by international car buyers, pointing to the founders’ big vision to one day become a global brand. 

The name Volvo has meaning, too, according to Car Throttle. It’s Latin translation from the term “volvere,” which means “I roll.” The casual interpretation would translate to the “go” and smooth movement of driving a Volvo.

Even the logo, the circle with the small arrow pointing upward, has meaning. It’s a symbol among the scientific community representing iron. Volvo’s version is meant to capture the automaker’s strength, safety, and durability. Today, the brand’s reputation continues to be one of durability, quality, and safety in every vehicle produced. 

The very first Volvo model 

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Going back to that first Volvo production vehicle, rolling out of the factory gates on the morning of April 14th, 1927, Volvo shares the story of its first model, the ÖV4. Volvo Club shares all the specs about this glorious first ride that presented an open-body style and came with an in-line four-cylinder engine with side valves.

It was a three-speed with a direct-action floor lever. It could cruise effortlessly at 37 mph and had a top speed of 55 mph, which was impressive for the time. This iconic historic car remained in production from 1927 to 1929. And clearly, it would only be the first chapter in a long line of incredible Volvo cars and SUVs the consumer market would grow to love in the coming years.

Volvo Cars has changed ownership over the years, but one thing remains constant. With every acquisition, the Volvo name will remain. And it will likely continue to be a beacon of safety and reliability in future models yet to come.