A world apart
2:30 PM | September 6 2017

Same car - a world apart

What does a villager from the west coast of Norway have in common with one of 12 million inhabitants in the global city of São Paulo? Both drive a Volvo XC90 – but they lead completely different lives.

Leif Haagensen (pictured below) takes one last look around the cabin in the Norwegian fjords, whistles for his Siberian Husky, and loads his diving gear into the car. He drives the 90-kilometre trip home to Aalesund, using cruise control practically the entire way. Almost home, he stops at one of the factories that produces the dried and salted cod he exports to large parts of the world. For him, his Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid is the ideal choice.

A world apart“For the short trips I take on an everyday basis, the car uses only the electric drive mode. I don’t have to worry about petrol costs or emissions,” he says. “It’s the perfect car for me. On weekdays, I use the car to pick up my son from school, go to tennis class or visit the factory. And it works just as well for driving to my cabin in the fjords.”


In a completely different part of the world, someone else is certain that his car is the perfect fit. Juliano Battella Gotlib (pictured below, with his wife Andressa) is a lawyer practicing corporate law in São Paulo, Brazil. The family’s XC90 Inscription is driven almost exclusively by his wife Andressa, to take their four children to school and activities.

A world apart

“Having four children is a very good resistance test of a car! So, it needs to be comfortable and big enough to fit everyone. We have tried basically every other SUV, and we both concluded that the XC90 was best by far,” he says.


Comparing the sparse Norwegian terrain to the crowded streets of São Paulo is like comparing apples and oranges. There might not be much planning involved when driving in Aalesund, but being organised when it comes to logistics is vital for Juliano’s life in São Paulo. To avoid spending hours in traffic every day, the family needs to keep everything close, including the airport as he travels a lot for work.


Understanding what customers want and need is essential when creating a car. “When developing new products and solutions, it’s important to identify needs customers aren’t yet aware of,” says Cecilia Larsson, Vice President Attribute Centres of Volvo Cars.


“Our aim is to provide the highest level of customer experience, no matter where in the world you buy your Volvo. But even though the goal is to create a global car, we sometimes need to adapt to specific legal requirements, for example within safety,” says Larsson.


Traffic conditions also vary a great deal in different parts of the world. In São Paulo, not only other cars need to be considered. Countless motorcyclists crowd around cars in the city’s traffic, trying to squeeze in between lanes.


“The auto brake technology is literally a life-saver in these situations. We know we can always count on it,” says Juliano Battella Gotlib.

A world apart

Apart from traffic safety, being protected from violence is unfortunately a concern in São Paulo where roadside assaults occur every day. Armoured cars are becoming increasingly common as crime rates remain high in the city. But it is expensive – about 15 per cent of the car’s purchase price.


“It wasn’t a hard choice for us, having four children that are constantly on their way to different activities. I want to keep my family safe. Being a bit elevated from the ground as you are in an XC90 also adds to feeling more protected,” says Juliano.

A world apart

Another differentiating aspect is environmental conditions, where São Paulo lacks one thing that Aalesund has plenty of: snow, and temperatures below freezing point.

“It’s a very safe car and incredibly comfortable to drive, also in snow. I don’t drive a lot off-road, and last winter was the first time I didn’t use studded winter tyres and it worked surprisingly well in the snow,” says Leif Haagensen.

A world apart

In Brazil, the air-conditioning system is more important. “The seats’ built-in ventilation is very pleasant. It’s definitely the cherry on the cake,” says Juliano.


Drivers such as Leif and Juliano are set for new experiences in the future as Volvo focuses on electrification, autonomous driving and connectivity – even if not necessarily at the same time.

“The rate of these developments will differ in the various markets,” says Cecilia Larsson, “but we will see fast changes all around the globe.”

A world apart

Read the rest of our September I Roll stories here

I Roll

Volvo is Latin for 'I roll' and was originally trademarked in 1915 with ball bearing production in mind. But 18 million cars later, Volvo has come to mean much more. 

Volvo started making cars in 1927 because we believed nobody else was making them strong enough or safe enough for Swedish roads. Along the way we’ve come up with dozens of innovations, some of which have changed the world. And it’s this proud history that continues our drive forward to the next great Volvo Cars idea.