Volvo has always been a company that looks to the future. Since the Swedish carmaker first arrived in Malaysia in 1966, Volvo has driven progress in the local automotive industry with its technological advancements and its ultimate priority in safety.
Volvo was also the first international car brand to set up a base in Malaysia with a factory in Shah Alam. Volvo commenced its operations in the country with the Volvo 144, the first-ever model to be assembled in Malaysia, marking a milestone for the local automotive industry.
In an effort to reinforce passenger and driver safety, Volvo created the three-point safety belt in 1959 and waived the patenting rights, allowing more people to reap the benefits of this groundbreaking invention. Besides that, the carmaker introduced the highly advanced Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) in 2003, which has become a regulatory feature on modern vehicles today. Volvo was also the first carmaker to build Plug-in Hybrid and Pure Electric vehicles in Malaysia in 2016 and 2022 respectively.
An Exclusive interview with Datuk Mohd Rani Hisham, Group CEO of KTMB
Taking inspiration from the past while setting its sights on the future by merging technological innovation and thoughtful design, Volvo is known as a pioneer in advanced mobility in the local automotive industry. To coincide with the National Day celebrations, The PEAK took the opportunity to sit down with Datuk Mohd Rani Hisham to get to know more about the Swedish marque’s legacy in Malaysia and how Volvo has remained relevant in the rapidly changing world of mobility.
The Group CEO of Kumpulan Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB), Datuk Mohd Rani Hisham is the owner of a Volvo P1800, possibly one of the most iconic classic designs of the marque. For Datuk Mohd Rani, the P1800 signifies Volvo’s unwavering commitment to ensuring safety for a car of its era.
What attracted you to the Volvo P1800 and why is this specific model unique to you?
When I was about five or six years old, I was living in Melaka. My late father was working in the British army at Terendak Camp. It was there when I saw the Volvo P1800 for the first time. At that age, I told myself, that one day I would acquire this car. In 1988, I went to a workshop and I came across this car. I assumed the owner wanted to restore it, so I got in touch with the owner and negotiated with him to buy this car.
It must take quite a lot of effort to maintain it. What do you enjoy the most about the Volvo P1800?
Restoring a classic car is quite a challenging task. But when the car is in good condition, it’s fairly easy to maintain as there are no electrical parts, all the parts are manual and mechanical. So, for me, it’s quite easy to maintain. However, attaining spare parts can be challenging.
The Volvo P1800 is in excellent condition. How do you manage this?
I only have spare time on the weekends to look after this car. However, I also have quite a lot to do on the weekends, but I would force myself to drive the car at least once a week because some parts of the car would deteriorate if I don’t, especially the bushes, the tyres and so on.
Volvo is a renowned brand for safety. How do you see the standard of safety features in your vintage car compared to the more recent Volvo models?
It’s very good. In fact, for a 1963 model, they already have seat belts and disk brakes. Just imagine a car of that year, at a time when other cars don’t have all these safety features, the Volvo P1800 already had all of them.
You’re part of the Volvo Classic Owners Club. Could you share some of the experiences you’ve had with other members?
Yes, I used to be the president of the Volvo Classic Owners Club. Surprisingly, a lot of people out there actually love Volvo and the older models and they’re trying to restore them. This club provides a platform for all members to exchange information, especially on how to acquire or find spare parts.
This Merdeka, we’re looking back to Volvo’s history with Malaysia. What are your thoughts on the carmaker’s evolution in the country?
Volvo didn’t only start by selling cars in Malaysia but they actually assembled cars in Shah Alam and they still do. So, their involvement in Malaysia has long been more than just a distributor. And you know, they’re growing together with the growth of Malaysia and that is very good to me.
You had a chance to drive the Volvo S90 Recharge which is Volvo’s top-of-the-line sedan with a hybrid powertrain. What are your thoughts on it?
Well, this is a totally different experience. It is basically a very much improved car. It is very comfortable.
The Volvo S90 Recharge is quite a luxurious vehicle. Are there any points of comfort that you have discovered from driving it?
Yes, there are plenty of luxury features in this car. But the most prominent one is on the dashboard because it’s basically a touchscreen menu. The high beam can be automatically switched off and at the same time when you corner, the beam follows your vision to the left and right as well.
Volvo has been making significant strides in electrification and is committed to selling only pure electric cars by 2030. What do you think of this move?
I think Volvo is going to be one of the successful brands (for electric mobility) because Volvo has this image where they are going to combine safety and technology. It is a very good combination.
How do you view Volvo’s approach to sustainability in today’s automotive landscape? Does this vision align with your own personal values?
Yes, definitely, because everybody has to contribute to the carbon footprint reduction. And Volvo has always done that very well. Volvo combines safety and technology as well as environmental issues. What I discovered is that the battery is actually placed right in the middle of the car, and this solves a lot of safety issues.
With your experience and vast knowledge of classic cars, and now with your experience with the latest electric hybrids from Volvo, what are your wishes for Volvo in shaping Malaysia’s automotive landscape?
I’m very sure that the initiative by Volvo to go towards EVs is going to help the country. And all of the initiatives done to promote safety, are definitely going to be very good to future owners and drivers.
Special Merdeka and National Day offers
Volvo Car Malaysia is commemorating its 57 years with Malaysia with promotions for both its BEV and hybrid range during Merdeka and Malaysia Day.
From now until 30 September 2023, customers who purchase a new Volvo Recharge Pure Electric model (XC40 Recharge Pure Electric or C40 Recharge Pure Electric) with Volvo Car Financial Services will enjoy the benefits of instant final price reduction worth RM20,000 with additional savings via a principal reduction method. There are also the benefits of a shorter financing tenure with no exit fees upon early settlement. This promotion is also applicable when you order the Volvo XC40 Pure Recharge or Volvo C40 Pure Recharge online at https://shop.digitalvolvo.com/my/shop-online.
Similarly, customers who purchase any Volvo hybrid electric vehicle within the same time period will enjoy complimentary car insurance and VSP (5-year Volvo Service Plan) worth almost RM20,000. VSP is a comprehensive car service package valued at RM12,900 that covers your first five car services including wear-and-tear items and labour costs, free software updates and vehicle health checks, while the complimentary car insurance for the first year is worth RM7,000.