This article offers some general background information on some well-known Swedish brand names, although some of them may not be commonly recognized as originally Swedish.
Sweden is quite unusual in that, for the size of the country, it has a reliably large number of world-class companies. Until recently, these were large Swedish owned, and some still are, but some are now owned, wholly or partly, by non-Swedish groups but are still seen as Swedish. However, most of these companies are not familiar with the majority of people because they sell to other industries and not to the general public.
People working in those industries will readily recognize such names as Alfa Laval (separators, heat transfer and fluid handling systems), Aga (industrial gases – now part of the Linde Group), Atlas Copco (compressors, mining and construction equipment), ASEA electrical equipment – now part of ABB), SKF (world number 1 in ball and roller bearings and seals), SCA (pulp and newsprint, packaging, hygiene products), Sandvik (special steels and high quality tools), Stora – originally the Great Copper Mountain mining company and now part of Stora Enso (world number 1 in paper, packaging and forest products) and Ericsson (telecommunications).
However, there are also some industrial names that are recognizable to the public at large. In no particular order, these include:
'Volvo' means 'I roll' in Latin, and its familiar logo is based on the symbol for iron to illustrate the company's early links with the Swedish steel industry.
The general public recognizes Volvo primarily as a make of cars, and the first Volvo car was built as long ago as 1927. Today, however, the car division – Volvo Car – has been spun off as a separate entity, purchased by Ford and now forms part of Ford's Premier Car Division (along with the UK's Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin and the American Lincoln).
The Volvo Group now has no car-making operations and focuses on making heavy trucks (it is number 2 in the world behind DaimlerChrysler and owns Renault Trucks in France and Mack Trucks in the US), buses (where it is also world number 2) , construction equipment (graders, excavators, backhoe loaders, etc) and aero-engine components. An additional and well-known division of the Volvo Group is Volvo Penta, which makes power units for leisure boats, workboats, industrial equipment, etc. For more information about the Volvo Group, visit their website at http://www.volvo.com/group/global/en-gb
The name is an acronym formed from the initials of Svenska Aeroplan AktieBolag (Swedish Aircraft Company) and the company was formed to develop a Swedish domestic military aviation industry.
The company later began building cars, but SAAB Automobile was devolved in 1990 into a separate entity and bought by General Motors in 2000. For many years, SAAB also made heavy trucks through its subsidiary SAAB-Scania, but Scania was also spun off as a separate company in 1995 (see below)
The SAAB Group now focuses on aviation, weapons systems, electronics and other systems and represents the major part of the Swedish defense industry. If you are interested, have a look at [http://www.saabgroup.com/en/index.htm]
Scania was formed in 1891 and since then has delivered more than 1,000,000 vehicles. It merged with SAAB in 1969, but was spun off as a separate company in 1995 when SAAB ceased making both cars and trucks. The company is the world's third largest manufacturer of both heavy trucks and buses and, like Volvo, heavy vehicles carrying its logo are a common sight on British roads. At the time of writing, the German MAN Group is trying to take over or merge with Scania, which would create a truck and bus group larger than Volvo and second in the world. Volksvagen, which is the largest single shareholder in both groups, has blocked a hostile bid, but is believed to favor a negotiated trader. To read more about Scania, go to http://www.scania.com/