Volvo outsold in Sweden for first time since 1962

Volvo's safety goal: No deaths by 2020
Volvo's safety goal: No deaths by 2020

For the first time in 54 years, the best-selling car in Sweden is not a Volvo.

The Volkswagen Golf knocked Volvo's most popular luxury models off the throne in 2016, according to sales figures released by BIL Sweden, the country's automaker association.

The last time a foreign car sat atop Sweden's sales list was 1962, when the Volkswagen Beetle zoomed to the top of the ranking.

Bertil Molden, managing director of BIL Sweden, was quick to point out that while the Golf was the top-ranked model in 2016, the Volvo brand still dominates.

Three of the top five models on the sales ranking were from Volvo, and the brand accounted for around one fifth of all vehicles sold in Sweden last year.

Sweden is Volvo's second biggest market after China.

VW beatle 1962
The VW Beatle was the last foreign car to top Volvo in Sweden.

The V70 had been Sweden's favorite car for decades, but Volvo stopped producing the model last summer. It's been replaced by the pricier V90 (sales of the models were combined this year for ranking purposes).

Combined sales of the V70, V90 and S90 (the 90 series sedan) dropped 25% in 2016 to 21,321. That was enough to push the Volvo out of the top spot.

Molden said the slump was partly because of the production switch to the 90 series.

"The replacement ... started nearly two months later due to changes in the factory," he said. "Of course you lose volume in the meantime ... it happens to all suppliers."

He said the new 90 series will likely reclaim the title for Volvo in 2017.

Volvo did not respond to a request for comment.

Volvo V90
The Volvo V90.

Related: Volvo promises deathproof cars by 2020

Volvo is one of the Sweden's most recognizable brands. A popular saying in the country is that you're grown up when you have "villa, Volvo, vovve," or a house, a Volvo and a dog.

The company was sold by Ford to the Chinese carmaker Geely in 2010.

In 2015, Volvo launched a new marketing campaign emphasizing its heritage. It featured Swedish soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the slogan "Made by Sweden."

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