It’s no coincidence that Volvo vehicles are getting ever safer as the calendar edges ever closer to 2020.
That’s the year targeted by Volvo Cars as part of its bold Vision 2020 – a goal that aims for no-one to be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo.
As the company has strived to improve both active and passive safety as part of realising this vision, the results have been reflected impressively through independent crash-testing.
In 2017, the new Volvo XC60 mid-sized luxury SUV was rated Best Overall Performance in the prestigious Euro NCAP Best in Class safety awards after scoring a near-perfect, class-leading 98 per cent in adult occupancy protection.
And this year, the First Ever Volvo XC40 compact SUV proved it was also one of the safest vehicles on the road by achieving a maximum five-star rating despite the introduction of tougher, more stringent assessment criteria in 2018.
The XC60 and XC40 are joined by other Volvos as examples of the Swedish brand’s commitment to developing the latest safety and support systems.
Vision 2020 was announced in 2008, the same year it debuted its groundbreaking City Safety autonomous braking technology and the world-first Driver Alert Control fatigue monitoring system.
It was a natural goal for a company that has been at the forefront of vehicle safety throughout its history – and where a dedication to protecting people and making lives better has and always will be part of its DNA.
The journey towards this world-leading position within automotive safety started when the first Volvo car rolled off the assembly line in Gothenburg, Sweden, on April 14th 1927.
Gustaf Larson, who founded Volvo together with Assar Gabrielsson, wrote in one of the first sales handbooks: “Cars are driven by people. The guiding principle behind everything we make at Volvo therefore is, and must remain, safety.”
Above: Volvo Cars’ Accident Research Team has for decades attended real-world accidents involving Volvo vehicles to help improve road safety.
In the early days, most safety features focused on protecting the car’s occupants in an accident. The Volvo PV444, which was introduced in 1944, is a good example. The model, which would later pave the way for Volvo’s success in the United States, surrounded the car occupants with a robust safety cage and featured a laminated windscreen that didn’t shatter in a collision.
And just a year after Nils Bohlin became Volvo Cars' first safety engineer, he designed the three-point safety belt we all know today. Volvo Cars waived its patent rights to enable all car makers to use the seatbelt – and no feature in automotive history has saved more lives.
Volvo’s list of pioneering safety features extends well beyond these world-firsts, including groundbreaking side-impact and whiplash protection features.
Every Volvo provides an incredible standard of protection courtesy of the outstanding, pioneering work of the company’s Safety Centre – which conducts more than 300 crash tests annually as well as thousands of computer-simulated crashes – and Volvo’s Accident Research Team that intensively studies the underlying causes of real-world accidents.
The company has been collating such data since the 1970s to establish a wealth of information about the cause of collisions, and about what is happening with the car and its occupants before and during an accident.
While the inherent safety of Volvo vehicles is built on a solid foundation of protective, passive safety, the company has spearheaded a new era of active safety placing emphasis on collision avoidance.
All Volvos come standard with City Safety – equipping them with sophisticated technologies that can detect an imminent collision with other cars, cyclists, pedestrians and large animals, and brake automatically and/or assist the driver’s steering inputs to help avoid or mitigate an accident.
And since 2017, trials of self-driving technologies are continuing to bring Volvo Cars closer to its safety vision.
Building the safest cars in the world is not enough to realise Vision 2020, however, so Volvo Cars collaborates to help plan the safe roads and traffic infrastructure that will also save lives. By working with the Swedish Transport Administration in our home country, for example, we have created a model for global cooperation between car manufacturers and the transport authorities.
And with its new 360c concept, Volvo Cars is leading the call for a new, global standard in how emerging autonomous vehicles can safely communicate with all other road users.
The call confirms that Volvo’s dedication to protecting people and the world around us won’t simply stop in 2020.