Swedish car manufacturer, Volvo is celebrating something rather different – 90 years since the marque unveiled a specially developed taxi program in March 1930.
Three years after the very first Volvo passenger car was introduced, the company decided it was time to build a car large enough to be competitive within the lucrative taxicab market. The Volvo TR 670 to TR 679 (TRafikvagn or Taxicab) family boasted a long wheelbase for comfort and began setting the standards in product quality and safety technology.
It was those very safety standards that spawned the legendary Volvo PV831 from the 1950s via the Volvo 140/240 of the following two decades to the current Swedish taxis, the premium SUV Volvo XC60 and the larger siblings of the Volvo 90s family.
Established taxi manufacturers were surprised by the success of the new taxi package, which after initial success with an optional taxi package for the luxurious six-cylinder sedan Volvo PV 651, launched in 1929, saw the innovative Scandinavian brand Volvo presenting a complete taxi model range in March 1930.
Volvo Taxi Range
The Volvo TR 671, TR 672 and TR 670 family was the first Swedish automobile series to be specially developed to meet all the requirements of the demanding taxi business. For example, the representative models of the Volvo models had an exceptionally long wheelbase of 3.10 meters, which offered ample space for up to seven passengers. While the Volvo TR 671 was designed as a manoeuvrable city taxi, the Volvo TR 672 conveyed the superior comfort of a lounge for cross-country trips.
Pioneering safety and reliable comfort
Visionary safety systems and premium quality have determined automotive engineering at Volvo from the start, and so the first taxis were developed in accordance with particularly strict quality specifications using resistant materials for the best possible vehicle safety at that time. Exceptionally powerful hydraulic four-wheel brakes were just as much a part of the story as solid Swedish steel was for the strength of important components, while other manufacturers were still using less expensive wood.
In the interests of occupant protection in the event of accidents, the luggage of the passengers was carried on a separate rear carrier. Wide-opening doors also contributed to comfort, as did the high-quality seats and the sophisticated, efficient and reliable 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine with an output of 40 kW (55 hp).
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Volvo PV 800 series
While the Volvo taxis were previously identified by the letter code TR (traffikvagn or transport car) as a commercial vehicle, the first eight-seater Volvo taxi with a streamlined design and the type designations Volvo PV 801 appeared in 1938 / 802. The abbreviation PV stood for personvagn (passenger car) which included a boot and powerful 3.7-litre six-cylinder engine.
With the Volvo 140 launched in 1966 and the Volvo 240 shortly after in 1974, Swedish taxis conquered all continents for the first time. In addition to the classic sedans and station wagons, Volvo also introduced limousines with long wheelbases and high roof combinations, and there was a suitable body concept for every taxi customer.
While the popular Volvo 700, 900 and 850 series continued the Swedish taxi success story in the 2000s, it was mainly the large Volvo S80, V70, XC60 and XC90 that was particularly popular with taxi customers.
Even the Museum of Modern Art recognized Volvo’s expertise in developing taxis. The New York institution ran a design competition in 1976 that sought a safe and functional taxi. Volvo then developed a visionary taxi concept car that inspired the development of new technologies for later series taxis.