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Volvo Penta was founded in 1907 in conjunction with the production of the first marine engine, B1. The Penta company soon became an established internal combustion engine manufacturer, which in 1927 delivered the engine for Volvo's first passenger car.
Volvo acquired Penta in 1935 and Volvo Penta has been part of the Volvo Group since then. It now provides internal combustion engines (ICEs) and complete power systems to the boating industry, power-generating equipment, and similar industrial applications. The business also manufacturers sterndrive and inboard drive systems such as the Volvo Penta IPS. The engine programme comprises petroleum fuel (diesel and petrol) engines with power outputs of between 7.5 and 1,500 kilowatts (10 and 2,039 PS; 10 and 2,012 bhp).
In 1868, engineer John G Grönvall founded a mechanical workshop and foundry in Skövde, Sweden. The business of John G Grönvall & Co was to supply everyday items.[clarification needed] The company became limited in 1875, known as Sköfde Gjuteri och Mekaniska Verkstad or simply Gjuteriet. Products ranged from pots and vents to stoves and brewery equipment. Soon Gjuteriet also started manufacturing agricultural equipment and equipment for sawmills.
The company expanded heavily in the early 1900s, and started producing steam engines and water turbines for hydraulic power plants. In 1907, a very fruitful co-operation with the Stockholm based engineering company Fritz Egnell began, with a one cylinder 3 hp compression ignition engine. The engine was simply named B1 - but a five men committee was set to find a name that would catch on. The committee failed, but as they were five, they settled for Penta.
In 1916, Egnell bought the company and the name changed to AB Pentaverken. Production was concentrated on engines, mostly for maritime applications. The years immediately after World War I were economically harsh, but a new product was introduced: a small two cylinder U2 outboard engine designed by Carl-Axel Skärlund. The U2 was slightly improved in 1926, and renamed U21 and remained in production until 1962. The U2/U21 was a great success and exported worldwide. In many countries, U21 is still synonymous with outboard engine.
In 1925, Penta was approached by Assar Gabrielsson, the founder of Volvo, who needed an engine for the first Volvo automobile. Penta then designed the four cylinder 28 hp side valve Typ DA engine for the Volvo ÖV 4. In 1935, Penta became a subsidiary of Volvo.
Marine engines and complete marine propulsion systems
Volvo Penta has introduced some innovations to the marine engine market, including the sterndrive, contra-rotating propellers Duoprop, and Forward Drive. In 2005, Volvo Penta launched the first IPS engine, a new "pod type" boat drive system with counter rotating forward-facing propellers operated by a joystick. Its engines are used by more than 140 boat manufacturers including Fairline Boats, Sunseeker, Riviera, Four Winns, and Cranchi. In conjunction with Volvo owned CPAC Systems, Volvo Penta and Yamaha Motor signed an agreement involving technological partnership in December 2010.
The company sells its engines to a variety of users, including many generator manufacturers such as Sdmo, Genpower, Kohler and Shanghai Dingxin Electric Group. Its engines are also used in mining equipment and stone-crushing machinery.
The company has a number of manufacturing bases for diesel engines at Vara, Sweden, Wuxi, China; and Lexington, Tennessee, United States, for all gasoline engines and sterndrives. Volvo Penta operates worldwide and has around 4,000 dealers in 130 countries.
- Wagner, Lon (May 8, 1995). "Volvo Penta Of The Americas: What's In A Name? After Years Of Being Regarded As Safe, Staid And Reliable, Volvo Penta Is Re-Examining The Role Of Its Brand Name In the Making Of Fast And Exciting Marine Engines.". Virginian-Pilot. p. 10. Retrieved 25 February 2010.