You’ve probably seen the video that Volvo produced with actor and martial artist Jean Claude Van Damme performing one of his famous splits, while perched on the side mirrors of two Volvo semi trucks demonstrating Volvo Trucks’ “Dynamic Steering”. The video quickly went viral in the automotive and general worlds, with millions of people seeing it in the first few days after release. Now some Swedes are wondering if the timing of the video’s release was calculated to deflect attention from layoffs at the truck maker. Right around the same time that the video was going viral, it was announced that 380 temporary workers will be laid off from Volvo’s plant in Umeå, while another 100 jobs will be lost at Volvo Powertrain in Skövde .
“This is an adjustment to market fluctuations and we’re adjusting our capacity accordingly,” plant manager Mona Edström-Frohm said in a statement. Volvo trucks had previously announced that 500 jobs will go away when the Umeå plant ceases assembly operations in 2015.
When asked if the release of the Van Damme video was timed to coincide with the layoff announcements, Volvo Trucks spokesman Anders Vilhelmsson vehemently denied any connection. ”The release of these films aren’t at all directly related to the organization of our manufacturing,” he told the Swedish website The Local.