This month, Volvo released sketches of its first fully electric vehicle. This follows its 2017 announcement that all new models beginning in 2019 would be either hybrid-electric or fully electric. This strategy makes Volvo the first mainstream car manufacturer to entirely dispense with internal combustion engines.
This is an ambitious step on Volvo's part, to say the least, and is indicative of just how vastly the automotive industry has changed since I ended my tenure at Volvo in 1993. During my 24 years at Volvo, I prioritized strategies that would be of long-term benefit to the Volvo brand and to factory workers.
My successors made the regrettable decision to sell Volvo's passenger car division to Ford Motor Co. in 1999. A simple look at the financial history of the sale will demonstrate how disastrous the decision turned out to be: Ford purchased the company for $6.5 billion, and 11 years later sold the money-losing Volvo unit to China's Geely Automotive Holdings for $1.8 billion — a loss of well over 70 percent. In my perception, the company and brand that I had worked so hard to safeguard and grow were gone.