Volvo readies to open its World of Volvo in Sweden

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Updated Apr 12, 2024

Disney World. Sea World. World of Volvo.

Located adjacent to a waterpark and on the site of a former Saab gearbox manufacturing site, World of Volvo – an extension of Volvo's sustainability goals â€“ opens this week in the center of Gothenburg’s entertainment strip and instantly becomes a new landmark in a city of roughly 600,000 people. The official opening date, April 14, is Volvo's 97th anniversary. 

World of VolvoWorld of Volvo is a meeting place the company sees as an extension of its brand.While it might not be a theme park like its Disney and ocean counterparts, World of Volvo – a joint venture between Volvo Cars and the company's truck division Volvo Group – it's just as action-packed for lovers of all things with wheels. 

Designed around â€śallemansrätten” – the Swedish concept that all its citizens share a fundamental right to nature: the right to roam freely on any land (both public and private) – World of Volvo features iconic vehicles, immersive experiences, exhibitions, shows, concerts and events.

Interactive video gameMany of the exhibits at World of Volvo are hands-on and interactive."This should be a vibrant meeting place," said Magnus Wrahme, World of Volvo CEO.

The building also accommodates conference rooms, an event hall, a bistro and a world-class restaurant. 

"This is the first time I've built round kitchens," joked Stefan Karlsson, restauranteur and operator of the World of Volvo's on-site restaurant, Ceno.  

Wrahme said the company's new "brand experience center" was inspired by "omtanke," the Sweedish word for care: care for the environment, care for the people of Gothenburg’s and care for Volvo's standing as a good corporate citizen.

Volvo Trucks President Roger Alm said World of Volvo was a nod of thanks to employees and citizens of Gothenberg. 

Wrahme noted that the now-closed Volvo museum would host about 100,000 people annually. That World of Volvo is in the city center and flush with attractions and features, he expects the number of people that pass though to be "many times higher." 

Sustainability showplace

working space inside World of VolvoNatural elements like glass and wood are used heavily in the building's construction.

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Designed by Danish firm Henning Larsen, the building uses many natural materials. It features a living green roof and is LEED Gold certified – a benchmark reserved for buildings that meet exacting standards for energy use, lighting, water and material use, as well as incorporate a variety of sustainable strategies.

"This is the most challenging and fun thing that I've ever done as an architect," said Martin Stenberg RingnĂ©r, the building's architect and design director. 

The building's circular construction was designed to be free of angles and corners, allowing each shared space to be unique and open. 

As much of the design is a glimpse into the future, just as much care was taken to to make a trip through World of Volvo also a trip down memory lane. A dedicated Volvo exhibition takes viewers through the company's ongoing evolution. 

The building's mostly timber and glass construction was also an intentional throwback. Constructed from glulam timber – multiple layers of dimensional lumber bonded by structural adhesive – the beams and columns are curved to give the inside a tree-like feel, with the center of the building being the trunk.

Indeed, World of Volvo is not a theme park, but it does have a theme: sustainability. 

Volvo is seeking a 50% reduction in CO2 by 2030 and expects to be net zero emissions by 2040, lofty goals for a company with a rolling population of 1.2 million heavy duty trucks a decade old and newer. "We need to transfer all of these trucks to zero emission vehicles to be net zero by 2050," noted Volvo Trucks President Roger Alm. 

Volvo delivered roughy 295,000 trucks worldwide the previous two years, a record level for the company, and has completely reinvented its global heavy duty truck lineup, including the North American VNL line. By year end, Volvo will have eight electric models in production globally. 

"Battery electric trucks can handle today about 40% of all transport needs," Alm noted, adding Volvo believes battery electric will be the most popular trucking option, but sees the need for hydrogen fuel cell in other applications. Alm said Volvo zero emissions trucks have already logged enough miles to make 900 laps around the world. 

Much of the progress made in zero emission has already forged formerly seemingly unlikely partnerships. Volvo Group and Daimler have formed a global hydrogen fuel cell development project, and Volvo Trucks North America has joined a partnership statewide with Daimler Trucks North America and International Trucks parent Traton

Alm said such partnerships are good for the industry and for product development, noting the having stakeholders at the same table will bring more mature technologies to market sooner.

Old Volvo TruckDespite its modern design, World of Volvo is also a nod to the company's history.

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Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected].