Tour Sweden's World of Volvo before It Opens

The previous Volvo museum ceased operations in December 2023; nevertheless, the World of Volvo establishment offers an unparalleled experience in Sweden.

  • A new Volvo museum is approaching construction in Gothenburg, Sweden.

  • Situated in close proximity to the Volvo Group headquarters, The World of Volvo is a mere 14 miles from Gothenburg International Airport.

  • A glimpse behind the scenes was granted to us prior to its April 14 grand inauguration.

BMW Welt has double cones and is a stone's throw from the company's headquarters in Munich, Germany. The Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen's entrance features a 911 kebab, or "Porscheplatz" as it is referred to. Presently, three enormous tree trunks stand in the center of downtown Gothenburg, Sweden; they serve as the support structure for World of Volvo, Volvo's new museum, exhibit, delivery program, gathering place, and eatery.

Volvo extended an invitation for us to inspect the newly constructed facility prior to its official commencement on April 14. It is worth noting that this date coincides with the departure of the Swedish automaker's first vehicle, the four-door OV4, from its assembly line, which occurred precisely 97 years ago. The roughly 240,000-square-foot portion of Gothenburg was designed by the Danish architecture group Henning Larson. Located 11 miles east of the Gothenburg-Landvetter airport, it is 14 miles from the Volvo Group headquarters and its oldest manufacturing facility, Torslanda.

The environment is Swedish stunning. Its lack of ostentatious gleaming metals or spacecraft design makes it feel genuine, welcoming, and inviting. We overheard more than just a few fellow media visitors compliment the spruce and pine fragrance that functions as a natural canopy over the structure's smooth concrete floors. The upper floor, home to several rentable conference halls and classrooms, conceals the nearby interstate due to the inclined roof below it. It took four years to design and construct, using some 2800 tons of timbers, and a few remaining lamp bulbs from the SAAB transmission building that once occupied a portion of its space.

Tour Sweden's World of Volvo before It Opens

World of Volvo is five stories tall, and while its entrance honors Sweden's "Allemansrätten," or "everyman's right to roam," with free admission, its grandiose event space, colorful and interactive exhibits, and restaurant run by Michelin-star chef Stefan Karlsson each require a handful of Swedish krona.

Its inaugural exhibit is a balance of Volvo's history, its pledge to safety, and future products. There are distracted-driving simulations, VR headgear, and an area that allows you lift rubber pellets out of a trench with a mini Volvo excavator. One ingenious installation depicts the role speed plays in an automobile accident, using a tower of wooden seats. It's a fascinating way to see colliding without a seatbelt at 15 km/h (9 mph) versus crashing at 30 km/h (19 mph). The lesson? Not donning a seatbelt is about as wise as plunging headlong from a stack of eight chairs.

Of course, there is no shortage of Volvo cars, concepts, vehicles, and technology featured here. The Volvo Experimental Safety Car (VESC) is impossible to overlook. This concept, which originally debuted at the Geneva auto show in 1972, was a test bed for all types of innovative safety equipment: front and rear airbags, concealed headrests that would deploy during a crash, a steering wheel that would pull away from the driver during a collision, and a 6.5-mm F/1.8 rear-facing camera that would feed video to a CRT screen in the dash.

In another compartment, one of the White Buses sat stationary. Painted white, with red crosses on the roof to avoid being attacked by allies during their attempt to transport more than 15,000 captives to Sweden, these buses served a heroic purpose toward the conclusion of World War II. The display is surrounded by literature about the nurses, transporters, and soldiers who conducted such a hazardous undertaking.

The Volvo YCC was on exhibit. We asked if we could take it home, but were told no. The YCC (Your Concept Car) originally unveiled at the 2004 Geneva auto show and was created by an all-female crew for women. It had a special compartment to store a purse, a headrest designed to comfortably accommodate a ponytail, and washable benches. The crew also gave the YCC gullwing doors and the special project would go on to receive many awards for its design and effort.

There are other vehicles on exhibit, such as forklifts, vessels, forestry trucks, and semi-trucks. The white F88 from the 1970s bears its significance across the top of its cab. Globetrotter was the highest specification level of Volvo vehicles, and the designation is still used today on its trucks specifically designed for extended travel. That takes you back to a time when refrigerators, kitchens, and spacious cabins were inspired by companies constructing vehicles in America.

The FH, Volvo's biggest-selling vehicle ever, is on exhibit behind the F88. It was the first to be erected, in 1993. This FH12 was just the start to the Volvo vehicles sold today, which are now offered with a range of electric, petroleum, and diesel powertrains. Exhibits large and small enter the space via an enormous freight elevator just outside the building that can transport up to 48,500 pounds of Volvo history. Which is more ice wine than we're able to consume in a single visit.

The World of Volvo building will become home to its Overseas Delivery service, making its location relative to the airport and assembly facility so crucial. The site, which is the result of a collaborative effort between Volvo Cars and Volvo Group, is intended to be the home of future product reveals, TED lectures, and—we hope—Car and Driver editors, because we so urgently want to play with those excavators again.