The Swedish motor-vehicle industry dates back to 1897, when a company by the name of Vagnsfabricsaktiebolaget i Södertelge (VABIS) built the country’s first factory-made passenger car. A few years later, in 1901, the first vehicle of another company, Maskin AB Scania, rolled out through the factory doors in Malmö. The year after, the two companies made their first lorries and in 1911 they merged to become AB Scania-Vabis. At that time the first bus – which seated 12 persons – was built. Eighteen years later, in 1929, the company manufactured its last passenger car. For a long time thereafter, it concentrated on heavy vehicles until SAAB entered the scene.
In the 1920’s, the other branch of Sweden’s automobile industry was founded. On 25 July 1924, two men – Assar Gabrielsson and Gustav Larsson – met at the Sturehof restaurant in Stockholm and decided to start a company by the name of Volvo. The first Volvo passenger car left the factory at Hisingen on Maundy Thursday in 1927. Just one year later, the first car exported was shipped to Denmark. In that same year, the first lorry and the first bus were also built.
When World War II broke out a decade later, more than one percent of industrial workers were employed in the automobile industry. By the end of the war, this percentage had decreased, but soon it was rising vigorously again.