Most of the concept car's technical innovations are in production - and it inspired the lines of the Volvo C30
No other concept car in the history of Volvo Car Corporation has meant more for the company's technological advancement than the Volvo SCC (Safety Concept Car).
Ten years after its 2001 world premiere in Detroit, the Safety Concept Car can look back on a fantastic "career".
- It was the starting point of the company's leadership in active safety. About 15 of the advanced technical solutions found in today's Volvo models first saw the light of day in the Volvo SCC.
- From the design viewpoint the SCC also inspired the design of the successful Volvo C30 model.
The Volvo SCC is an early example of the cumulative effect of close cooperation between Volvo Cars' designers and engineers.
"Concept vehicles are usually design or technology studies that give car buyers a taste of the future. The Volvo SCC, however, has added impact because it was both attractive and high-tech. It is an early example of how we design our cars around our customers' wishes, needs and limitations," says Volvo Car Corporation's President and CEO Stefan Jacoby.
One of the project group's most important goals was to demonstrate the possibility of combining world-class safety with a sporty, sleek shape all packaged in a relatively small car.
"When we began work on the concept car at the end of the 1990s, Volvo was still primarily known for making family cars designed to protect their occupants in a collision. The SCC signalled the start of a new approach which enhanced safety for the occupants, where the car's most important safety task is to help avoid dangerous situations and accidents in the first place," explains Östen Strandberg, who was responsible for the development of the Volvo SCC. He adds:
"With the driveable Safety Concept Car, we showed that all these smart, collision-preventive technological solutions were within reach. It is fair to say that the success of the SCC project triggered Volvo Car Corporation's groundbreaking dedication to active safety systems."
Star in Detroit
The Volvo SCC generated enormous interest at its unveiling to a massive audience on the Volvo Cars stand at Detroit Auto Show in January 2001. That autumn, the world press had the opportunity to test-drive the concept car in a closed-off section of Seville International Airport in southern Spain.
The following year, Swedish Prime Minster Göran Persson was one of many people that tested the car - and later the car went on a nationwide tour of the USA, reaping immense praise from coast to coast.
"The attention it attracted was actually greater than we dared hope. I'm convinced that this was largely because the SCC was attractive as well as technically advanced - but without being complicated. That's exactly the combination that echoes Volvo's approach and it is still our strength," says Mikael Edvardsson, one of the engineers responsible of the technology integrated into the Safety Concept Car.
From concept to production
In 2002 work got under way on translating the technical studies showcased in the Volvo SCC into production-ready safety technology. One year later, Volvo Car Corporation initiated the project that would result in the world debut of the Volvo C30 in Paris in 2006.
Today - ten years after the premiere success - around 15 of the technological solutions presented in the Volvo SCC can be found in Volvo Car Corporation's model range. Technological solutions that now help drivers the world over avoid both minor incidents and major collisions.
"One small but revealing example of just how much of the SCC made it into series production is the fact that even the car's livery became reality - the paintwork of the one-off SCC bears a remarkable resemblance to the Orange Flame colour that you can specify for your Volvo C30," relates Östen Strandberg.
There's an exception to every rule, however. One of the SCC's most attention-grabbing features never made it into production: the Eiffel Tower-like see-through A-pillars remained a part of the C30 project, but eventually made way for a conventional alternative owing to obstacles when it comes to strength, build complexity and cost.
SCC technology in today's Volvo models
Here is a list of the technological solutions that made it from the Volvo SCC to some or all of Volvo Car Corporation's current models:
- Forward collision warning - today in its third generation with Pedestrian Detection, Collision Warning and Full Auto Brake. In addition, there is the ground-braking low-speed system, City Safety, which is fitted as standard to several Volvo models.
- Information projected on the windscreen - today the head-up display is part of the Collision Warning system.
- Technology that monitors vehicles in the "blind spot" and alerts the driver. Today this is known as BLIS (Blind Spot Information System).
- Warning system to alert the driver to the risk of straying from the lane. Today known as Lane Departure Warning and Driver Alert.
- Cruise control that maintains a set distance behind the vehicle in front. The present ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) operates all the way down to standstill in cars with automatic transmission.
- Flashing brake lights during hard braking - today known as Emergency Brake Lights.
- Safety cameras - today there are integrated reversing camera and grille-mounted camera offering drivers a 180-degree field of vision (accessory). A camera is also a key component in the Pedestrian Detection and Collision Warning system.
- Advanced headlights that follow the curvature of the road as the car turns - today Active Bending Lights.
- Further-developed HMI (Human Machine Interface) - now Volvo Sensus.
- Height-adjustable rear seat. Present today in the integrated two-stage child booster cushions.
- Protection for pedestrians - today this system is found as the energy-absorbing front structure and bonnet and in Pedestrian Detection.
- Steering wheel adjustable for height and reach - fitted today as standard.
- Passive unlocking and engine starting - today Keyless Go.
- Communication with the car via mobile phone - today via a newly developed Mobile Application that was introduced in spring 2011.
Ahead of its time
Mikael Edvardsson sums up:
"When the Volvo SCC was unveiled, it was packed with sensational technology. Bearing in mind the interest of the car-buying public in active safety systems today, it's easy to see that the concept car was way ahead of its time. It's evidence that Volvo is and will remain at the cutting edge when it comes to automotive safety."
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