Heritage

Volvo Cars’ safety: a proud heritage

The safety vision that nobody will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020 is the result of a dedication to saving lives that has been passed on from generation to generation of Volvo people since the company was founded in 1927.

Focus on safety from the start

Ninety years down the road, recent independent safety ratings shows that the Swedish premium carmaker is moving closer to realizing its bold vision.

Three recent Volvo models, the S90, V90 and XC90, are the best-ever performing cars in the stringent Euro NCAP safety rating, which is an important guide for European consumers.

The journey towards this world-leading position within automotive safety started already 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.”

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.

Nils Bohlin: the man behind the three-point safety belt.

There is a bit of Volvo in every car

In 1958 Nils Bohlin became Volvo Cars' first safety engineer. A year later he designed the three-point safety belt as it looks today. No feature in automotive history has saved more lives.

Volvo Cars’ ingenious solution was simple as well as efficient: A combined diagonal and lap belt, anchored at a low attachment point on the side of the seat, provided a V-shaped geometry that ensures that the belt stays in place even in a crash.

In 1959 Volvo Cars became the first automaker in the world to fit three-point safety belt as standard in the Amazon and PV544. A few years later, the Swedish company waived its patent rights to enable all automakers to use the safety belt.

This means that there is a little bit of Volvo in your car, even if you drive one from a different brand. And while you were reading these lines, the three-point safety belt saved another life somewhere in the world.

Pioneers in saving young lives

Volvo Cars also pioneered child safety. The first rear-facing child seat prototype was tested in 1964 and launched a few years later. It has been followed by many innovations that have saved countless young lives throughout the years. Most modern Volvo models can, for example, be equipped with integrated child booster cushions in the rear seat.

In the 1970s, the 240 model became yet another milestone in making Volvo synonymous with safety. The iconic Volvo, which was produced for almost 20 years, was chosen as the benchmark for an entirely new car safety legislation in the United States.

The list of safety world-firsts from Volvo is extensive. It includes groundbreaking side impact protection features, rollover prevention and protection technologies as well as solutions that help drivers stay alert and avoid dangerous run-off road situations. Just to name a few.

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Safety systems to protect all road users.

Helping you avoid accidents

Over the years, there has been a growing focus on collision-avoiding features. Most recent Volvo models are equipped with sophisticated technologies that detect other cars, cyclists, pedestrians and large animals. If a collision is imminent, and the driver doesn’t react in time, the car will brake automatically and/or assist the driver to steer away from the danger.

Later in 2017, trials of self-driving technologies will continue to bring Volvo closer to its safety vision. Even if modern Volvo cars are safer than the company’s founders could have imagined 90 years ago, the starting point for every new innovation remains the same: real life traffic situations.

“All our cars are created around people and the challenges they encounter in real-life traffic. We study data. We crunch numbers. We innovate. The result is some of the safest cars ever made,” says Professor Lotta Jakobsson, Senior Technical Specialist Safety at Volvo Cars Safety Centre.