The Volvo XC60 is World Car of the Year. Why? Longevity, Safety, Design, China.

Longevity, safety, design, China.

These are reasons Volvo’s XC60 mid-sized SUV won 2018’s World Car of the Year award in New York last week.

True that: Volvos tend to last. The Swedish carmaker has a high mileage club which includes an owner who has over 3 million miles on his P1800 sports coupe. Membership requires 150,000 miles (bronze) with higher levels from 300,000 (silver) to 500,000 (gold).

Deemed “the safest car on the planet” last year by The Guardian’s Martin Love, the XC60 won the safest car in its class in the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) in Europe, where the SUV was the top-selling midsize ute for 2017.

When last week at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) an 82-member jury of top international journalists crowned the Volvo XC60 the World Car of the Year for 2018, voting results showed the SUV scored top marks for its interior, safety, looks and market significance.

“It’s a good start for the car. This is going to help us,”” said Anders Gustafsson, Volvo’s SVP of the Americas. “This is the number one car in Europe, the number one in the segment. So we’ll see if we can put this car in the same place.” …Here or elsewhere in the world, we presume.

The accolades highlight a stunning turnaround for Volvo, which went from teetering on the verge of bankruptcy following the 2008 financial downturn to posting record profits last year.

After Ford sold Volvo to Chinese automaker Geely Holding Corp. in 2010, Geely allowed Volvo to retain most of its management, remain in Sweden, and run fairly autonomously. Most importantly, Geely gave Volvo $11 billion to reinvent itself.

After analyzing driving habits, Volvo found its V6 and V8 engines had become an expensive waste of fuel, money and time, because customers almost never drove their cars over 4,000 RPMs. So the company based Volvo’s emerging portfolio on a new fuel efficient, 2-liter, super- and turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, with a hybrid option, which offered drivers both power and fuel economy.

Last year, Volvo made a record $1.76 billion for Geely selling 571,577 vehicles. It was the fourth straight year of record sales for the Gothenburg-based automaker, which is getting a boost from huge demand in China, Volvo’s biggest market, where sales of the XC60 and Volvo’s new 90-series wagons and sedans are on the rise.

That’s why Volvo’s CEO Hakan Samuelsson was named 2018 “Car Person” of the year last month at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland. The award highlighted “the transformation of Volvo’s finances and operations under Mr. Samuelsson’s stewardship.”

Volvo’s lucky for its homegrown history of expertise in design, which is so engrained in the Scandinavian culture that Sweden has its own national font.

The Volvo typeface has in fact always been one of our favorite aesthetic qualities that buoy these cleanly designed, good-looking cars, which are neither flashy nor flinty but, just right. Or: 


Shane Kite

This Brooklynite covers music, art, film, finance, technology, politics, small business, economics, clean energy, national security and local and foreign affairs.

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