Published on August 28th, 2023 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Volvo Cars Dedication To Absolute Passenger Comfort
Volvo puts ergonomics and comfort right up there with safety.
About forty years ago, Volvo achieved a world first when it introduced a step-lessly adjustable lumbar support in the front seats of its Volvo Amazon car. And Volvo seats have been regarded as probably the best in the business ever since.
The reasons for this continued leadership are many; however, technology, ergonomics and safety are important keywords in this context, as is appearance, since a Volvo seat is also designed to be attractive!
“A world first” proclaimed Ratten, the Volvo customer magazine, in 1964 describing the new front seats in the Volvo Amazon. The most newsworthy feature was the new lumbar support, which could be adjusted with a screwdriver to suit the anatomical characteristics of the individual driver.
Volvo engineers had developed the seats in consultation with medical experts (the science of ergonomics was practically unknown at the time). The seats were of a particularly modern design, with cushions of foamed polyester for optimum support and comfort. Both the height and longitudinal position could be adjusted, while the backrest angle could be varied by means of a hand-wheel.
Customer requirements dictate
Closer study of the Amazon seat reveals why the development was regarded as something of a revolution. After its introduction, Volvo quickly acquired a reputation for superb seats which it still enjoys today.
The seats and seat cushions used in current Volvo models are the product of cooperation between the company’s own engineers and the seat suppliers. The suppliers are basically responsible for all of the development work, while Volvo engineers verify the results in what are known as complete vehicle tests.
Volvo Cars product planners translate the customer’s requirements into an order, which the supplier uses to produce the seats with the aid of drawings, simulations, crash testing, strength testing, and so on.
In addition, development activities at Volvo have recently been divided among two groups – a group of eleven working on front seats and a nine-person group responsible for rear seats.
Own standards higher
Car seat design appears to be influenced to some degree by ‘cultural’ differences. For example, German carmakers often choose harder upholstery padding, as well as different springs and elastic webbing, compared with Volvo.
Importance of ergonomics
As mentioned above, medical experts were involved in the development of the famous Amazon seat introduced in 1964. In this context, Volvo has had the inestimable advantage of working for many years with Professor Alf Nachemson, the renowned Gothenburg specialist in back problems.
The term ‘ergonomics’ was still unknown in 1964. Ergonomics began as a science at about that time and has grown dramatically in importance since then (remember the Volvo 164 and its armchair like front seats?). The Volvo Cars product development department now includes a number of ergonomics specialists from various basic disciplines who also work with independent researchers.
Ergonomics is often used loosely to describe seating comfort. However, the term covers infinitely more. For example, HMI (Human-Machine Interface) is an area of the science which is growing rapidly and it started early with the Volvo 240 series.