Gothenburg; home of Volvo Cars

Gothenburg is an interesting town.  In the two days that we have been here, a music festival was in town, a protest showing dissatisfaction with Syrian refugees migrating to Sweden, and a gay pride parade complete with fireworks.  The latter two are far different than the norm of Orange County, California: we only have protestors claiming the existence of chem-trails or holding pro-US military gatherings (both held at the Orange Circle).

cigarettesOn the Surface, Gothenburg is a typical northern European city complete with regular trains, busses, bikes, and jaywalkers (everyone jaywalks by the way), yet with that positive, most of the streets are covered with cigarettes; something rarely found back home.

 

In visiting Volvo cars (as the Truck devision is a separate entity), they are a typical 21st century upscale automobile company that is doing many innovative things with a focus on safety to people inside and outside their cars.  Safety is the brand association and thus the pursuit of safety is paramount to their product as long as they still make a profit.  Volvo is (if volvo xc safety structureyou drink the kool-aid) leading the car industry in green technology with diesel-electric hybrids, low weight materials, and various technology and design improvements that add to this zero-death, zero-emission goal.  While their safety tests are quite impressive (as illustrated by the new XC SUV with exposed safety structure vs the after-crash example showing 100% driver and passenger survival rate, they are not leading the industry in safety when compared in the US market (as the US and EU have different although comparable safety tests).  The Tesla model S volvo xc crash testhas been awarded an amazing 5.4 stars out of 5 total; the first and highly publicized outcome of it’s time.

Volvo does have many features to lessen both accident rates and damage if unavoidable in their cars today.  While they have not stated anything directly, they insinuated they plan to remove the human factor from driving for sake of safety in their future goals; however I feel they are behind the game when compared to the already highly functional, highly tested, Google driverless car system.  Google is leading the industry in this manner and influencing legislation changes that another company without their financial influence wouldn’t be able to initiate: all of this from a company that isn’t a car company.

As far as zero emissions as a goal, it’s already been achieved several times over if you take into account just the direct emissions of the car.  The Nissan Leaf, the Tesla model S, the G-Wiz (of Britain), and the REVA (of India) are only some of the current competitors already on the market.  However, a big gripe I have with these zero-emissions vehicle ratings are that when compared with traditional petrol or diesel vehicles, vehicle manufacturers wholly neglect the huge environmental impact of the highly specialized batteries that arise from the supply chain and recycling of the batteries and the even larger impact of electricity production (source).

While all of the above is very important and outshines many (if not all) US car companies, Volvo is not the leader in the two places they heavily emphasized; however that being said, they are still definitely a very safe car, made primarily in Sweden, that offers a lot of luxury in their product line and delivers a complete package of creature comforts, safety, and cost savings over mainstream luxury brands.  After today’s visit, I now would consider Volvo in a future car purchase.

 

–Team Sladdertacka