The brand name Volvo was originally registered as a trademark in May 1911 with the intention to be used for a new series of SKF ball bearings. It means «I roll» in Latin, conjugated from «volvere». The idea was short-lived, and SKF decided to simply use its initials as the trademark for all its bearing products.
In 1924, Assar Gabrielsson, an SKF sales manager, and a KTH Royal Institute of Technology educated engineer Gustav Larson, decided to start construction of a Swedish car. They intended to build cars that could withstand the rigors of the country’s rough roads and cold temperatures.
AB Volvo began activities on 10 August 1926. After one year of preparations involving the production of ten prototypes, the firm was ready to commence the car-manufacturing business within the SKF group. The Volvo Group itself considers it started in 1927, when the first car, a Volvo ÖV 4, rolled off the production line at the factory in Hisingen, Gothenburg. Only 280 cars were built that year. The first truck, the «Series 1», debuted in January 1928, as an immediate success and attracted attention outside the country. In 1930, Volvo sold 639 cars, and the export of trucks to Europe started soon after; the cars did not become well known outside Sweden until after World War II. AB Volvo was introduced at the Stockholm Stock Exchange in 1935 and SKF then decided to sell its shares in the company. By 1942, Volvo acquired the Swedish precision engineering company Svenska Flygmotor (later renamed as Volvo Aero).
Pentaverken, which had manufactured engines for Volvo, was acquired in 1935, providing a secure supply of engines and entry into the marine engine market.