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-8°C – sunny, ice forming on a small pond

October 18, 2009

Volvos.  There is a plethora of the marque here in the Laurentians; maybe elsewhere in Quebec as well.  Like Kleenex to tissue, Volvo is about safety.  They’ve worked and marketed vigorously to infuse their brand equity so.  It’s interesting to see so many more folks in this province assuming the Volvo persona, and its inference, than anywhere else I know.  The last time I was here for any extended amount of time, Jettas and Civics were the autos populaire.  Could this represent a reactive shift of the collective persona of this era’s La Belle Province?

I recall a time when many of us viewed Montréal, and by extension the province, as a place to be; more cosmopolitan and mature than Toronto, more worldly and sophisticated than Vancouver.  The savoire faire was authentic and held its rightful place in the culture.  This was a city with a healthy balance between work and play.  All of those drivers and their dangling cigarettes, complete with a de rigueur sneer, zipping around in little cars were as much a part of the French Canadian experience as a summer night on St Catherines Street.

The home of Volvo Cars has been in limbo for years now.  After spending US $6.45 billion to buy the company, Ford has been trying to off-load it like an extra Jerry Lewis DVD box set. Current thinking is that Geely Automobile of Shanghai will buy the company for between US $2-3 B.  Geely’s automotive brands have included the King Kong and the Beauty Leopard coupe.

While Geely has indicated their intention of becoming a global industry player, their vehicles have thus far been unable to pass either US or European safety tests.  Geely is marketing their brands in Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela and are beginning to enter the marketplace in Romania and Bangladesh.

Volvo’s original parent, the SKF ball-bearing manufacturer, intended to build an automobile that would stand up to Sweden’s cold winters and rough roads.  Now that’s a Quebec association that makes sense to me.  Of course that was in 1927.

Volvo is a conjugated Latin verb translating to – I roll.  Yes, well, bonne chance with that.

glh

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