Development of the Bv 206 all-terrain articulated tracked carrier began in 1974. Three batches of trial vehicles were delivered between 1976 and 1978 and the first production examples were delivered to the Swedish Defense Administration in 1980.
Like its predecessor, the Volvo Bv 202, the Bv 206 is designed to carry troops and equipment through snow and bog-lands in northern Sweden. The low ground pressure enables the Bv 206 to cope with a wide range of difficult conditions. It is also fully amphibious, with a speed in water of up to 4.7 kilometres per hour (2.9 mph). Over 11,000 have been produced and they are used in more than 37 countries worldwide.
The total load capacity is 2,250 kilograms (4,960 lb) and a trailer of up to 2,500 kilograms (5,500 lb) gross weight can also be towed behind the second compartment.
The Bv 206 is referred to as a Small Unit Support Vehicle (SUSV) pronounced “susvee” in United States service. U.S. military variants include the standard model (M973), a tactical operations center variant (M1065), an ambulance variant (M1066) and a flat-bed cargo carrier (M1067). U.S. military models are fitted with a 6-cylinder Mercedes diesel engine and a non-halon fire suppression system since 1997 due to several cases where the front car caught fire and burned to the frame. A Bv 206D being transported by a German Army CH-53
Users include the American and Australian Antarctic research organizations and British, Icelandic and Canadian search and rescue services. They are also used for search and rescue services in the Austrian alpine region. The Bv 206 was used in combat by the Canadian Army during Operation Anaconda. The Singapore Armed Forces uses the Bv 206, and recently transferred several of them to the Singapore Civil Defense Force for use as a firefighting platform.
Decommissioned units have been purchased by private owners and rented as transports, particularly in Alberta, Canada, to access remote oil wells, as well as cut blocks which need to be reforested by tree planting.
The Bv 206 is used in Antarctica, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Indonesia, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.