Published on January 25th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Volvo Sets 2020 Target
Only Volvo could set itself the target of ensuring that by 2020 nobody is seriously injured or killed in one of its new cars – and stand a realistic chance of achieving it.
In 1959, when Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin patented the three-point seatbelt, the company had a choice. It could keep the innovation to itself, giving its cars an immediate edge over competitors, or share the invention to raise road safety globally.
That Volvo opted for the latter is no surprise. The Swedish carmaker has forged its reputation on a commitment to minimising the effect of accidents. With each technology it develops, the world becomes safer. Only Volvo could set itself the target of ensuring that, by 2020, nobody is seriously injured or killed in one of its new cars – and stand a realistic chance of achieving such an aim.
For fleet buyers, the appeal of Volvo’s safety credentials is plain. Fewer accidents equate to less downtime, with reduced repair costs and minimal disruption to work.
That is what high-profile chauffeur company Tristar Worldwide found in switching its fleet to Volvos. The number of accidents involving its cars driving into the back of other vehicles fell by 66pc in the first year, thanks to Volvo’s City Safety system.
It works at low speeds to monitor the road in front and automatically applies the brakes if there is an obstacle that the driver does not seem to have noticed. Since 80pc of accidents happen at below 20mph, this makes a tangible difference to the chances of being in a collision.
Pedestrian Safety technology brings the car to a stop if a person steps in front of it and Cyclist Detection does the same for cyclists. There is even an Animal Detection system being developed. The financial benefits of these features speak for themselves. By reducing collisions that Tristar’s vehicles are involved in, its repair costs have fallen 41pc. With added features such as reverse parking sensors, the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) and Active Bi-Xenon headlights across its fleet, it expects yet more savings.
BLIS is a further example of Volvo’s ingenuity in accident prevention. It sends radar waves out to monitor the driver’s blind spots and warns if there is a vehicle nearby. The driver then knows not to change lanes.
So how does Volvo stay ahead in developing new safety features for its vehicles? The answer lies in its extensive research and development programme, ensuring that safety is at the heart of every single car it makes.
Volvo’s engineers talk about a “Circle of Life” in safety programme. First, they study real collisions – something the company’s Accident Research Team has done since 1970. The team has analysed more than 40,000 smashes, by visiting their aftermath or by lab re-creations.
The second stage is to ensure compliance with statutory safety requirements, as established by legislators such as the EU. In many cases, Volvo’s cars exceed these standards, which are often informed by the company’s own progress on road safety. Collected accident information is analysed by staff at the Volvo Cars Safety Centre, engineering department and medical specialists.
Company experts develop new safety equipment, such as the Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) of the Nineties or pedestrian airbags, introduced on the V40 last year.
These draw on everything that Volvo knows about road safety and are rigorously tested before entering production. The carmaker quietly continues to engineer in safety as an integral part of what it does.
Then the cycle restarts, as Volvo continues to explore new ways of improving safety for everyone who encounters its vehicles. This explains Volvo’s enviable safety record and industry plaudits. Cyclist Detection received the Best Car Safety System prize in this year’s BusinessCar Fleet Technology awards – the fourth such gong for Volvo in the past five years.
The V40 is the safest car the Euro NCAP watchdog has tested. The accolade is the culmination of decades of attention to safety detail.
Ultimately, though, the silverware in Volvo’s trophy cabinet is irrelevant. It is the desire to produce the world’s safest cars that keeps its experts motivated. And this benefits fleet car owners, delivering clear cost advantages and helping to keep the workforce out of harm’s way. They have the right to be as safe in a vehicle as in an office.
Volvo ensures safer roads for all. Sixty years after sharing Bohlin’s pioneering invention, this remains at the heart of the brand.