Swedish families help Volvo Cars develop autonomous drive cars
Volvo Cars will from today start developing its autonomous drive cars with help from Swedish families who will test its cars on the public roads of Gothenburg and feed back their impressions to Volvo Cars engineers.
The first two families, the Hains and the Simonovskis from the Gothenburg area, have now received the Volvo XC90 premium SUVs with which they will support the Drive Me project. Three more families will follow early next year, and over the next four years up to 100 people will be involved in Drive Me.
Both families will contribute to Drive Me with invaluable data by allowing engineers at the company to monitor their everyday use and interaction with the car, as they drive to work, bring the kids to school or go shopping for groceries.
Volvo Cars plans to have a fully autonomous car commercially available by 2021, and the data derived from Drive Me will play a crucial role in the development of these autonomous cars.
“It feels great to be a part of this project,” said Alex Hain, 45 years old. “We get the chance to be part of developing technology that will one day save lives.”
Drive Me will involve real customers testing the different stages of driver-assisted and eventually fully autonomous technology.
“Drive Me is an important research project for Volvo Cars,” said Henrik Green, Senior Vice President for the company’s R&D department. “We expect to learn a lot from engaging these families and will use their experiences to shape the development of our autonomous driving technology, so that by 2021 we can offer our customers a fully autonomous car.”
The Hains and the Simonovskis have received Volvo XC90s fitted with Volvo’s latest driver-assistance technology, as well as an array of cameras and sensors to monitor their behavior and provide the car with information on its surroundings.
During these first stages, the families will keep their hands on the steering wheel and supervise the driving at all times when using their cars. But, over time, all participants in the Drive Me project will gradually be introduced to more advanced assisted-driving cars, after receiving special training.
Even then, testing these more advanced cars will initially take place in controlled environments with supervision from a Volvo Cars safety expert. No technology will ever be introduced if there is any question over its safety.
This means Volvo Cars continues to develop autonomous cars with the same care and thoroughness that has helped it establish its position as the builder of some of the world’s safest cars.
The Hain family comprises Alex and Paula (45 years old), and their daughters Filippa (17) and Smilla (14). The Hains were the first people chosen to take part in Drive Me earlier this year.
They are now joined by Sasko Simonovski (44) and his wife Anna (41), and their children Elin (10) and Villiam (8). Additional families will be added as the project progresses.
The new name for Volvo in Reading.
There’s a new name in town, as Volvo Cars Reading has opened its temporary doors for business just as building on a new state-of-the-art facility is about to begin.
Volvo Cars Reading has taken over from Lancaster Volvo and has relocated to its temporary home around the corner from its previous Rose Kiln Lane site. Volvo Cars Reading will offer a full range of services from this temporary site and continue to provide excellent customer service throughout its relocation.
The new site is due to open in summer 2018 and has been designed in keeping with the brand’s Scandinavian-inspired concept known as the Volvo Retail Experience (VRE). VRE, a global brand standard that Volvo Car UK is rolling out across its dealer network, is designed to create an open environment in which customers are relaxed and at ease. This includes flexible waiting and working areas, along with large interior glazing that allows customers to see their Volvo being worked on in the workshop.
The new workshop environment will provide customers with while-you-wait servicing and MOT tests. Teams of Personal Service Technicians (PSTs) work on cars in pairs rather than individually so work can be carried out twice as fast, nearly halving customer waiting times. PSTs form part of Volvo Personal Service, which streamlines aftersales functions to improve workshop efficiency while delivering a much more personal service to customers via dedicated service technicians.
With a high-profile location on the A33 nearer to the M4, once completed, the new facility will incorporate a showroom where new models will be on display and a comfortable waiting area for customers. The dealership will include a large forecourt where pre-owned Volvo vehicles will be sold under the brand’s Volvo Selekt approved-used programme, and a workshop complete with advanced equipment will meet service and repair requirements of Volvo customers throughout Berkshire.
Volvo Cars Reading falls under the ownership of the newly created Waylands Automotive, headed up by John O’Hanlon, former CEO of Ridgeway Group.
Commented O’Hanlon: “I am delighted to be working with Volvo on this exciting opportunity in the Reading territory. The combination of the vibrant Volvo brand with its class leading products and the dynamic Reading economy was too good an opportunity to resist. Our primary aims will be to deliver class leading service for our customers and a fantastic place to work for our teams.”
Mark Dooler has been appointed as aftersales manager for the new operations. Mark has over 15 years experience within motor retail with a number of premium brands. Mark has previously worked with the teams at Reading Volvo and is delighted to be re-joining the Volvo family.
James Cox has been appointed as sales manager ahead of the major new build. He will oversee operations from the dealership’s temporary home, including undertaking a massive recruitment drive in and around the town in advance of the new facility’s completion.
James said: “This role offers an incredible opportunity both with the build of a new, state-of-the-art Volvo facility and as the first business as part of a new venture set up by well-known and widely respected automotive retailer John O’Hanlon.
“We are continuing to offer the same high level of service, repair and maintenance services, test drives in Volvo vehicles from across the range – including the newly launched, award-winning XC60 premium SUV – and retailing used Volvo cars as part of the approved-used programme.
“We are looking forward to a very exciting future representing Volvo in Reading, and once open we are confident customers will be really impressed.”
Volvo Cars Reading’s new address is Unit 1 Prosper Park, 5-7 Bennet Road, Reading, Berkshire RG2 0QX.
NEW T4 PETROL ENGINE JOINS THE VOLVO S90 AND V90 RANGES
Volvo Car UK has released a new petrol engine in its premium S90 and V90 model ranges, offering greater choice for drivers, particularly company motorists.
Drivers who want an alternative to diesel can now opt for the T4 version of the S90 saloon and V90 estate. Powered by a Euro VI four-cylinder petrol engine and mated to an automatic gearbox as standard, it generates 190 hp and offers impressive fuel economy figures – 42.2 mpg in the S90 and 40.9 mpg in the V90, both on the combined cycle.
The T4 versions are available from entry-level Momentum to luxurious Inscription Pro form, and share the high level of standard features as their existing diesel and petrol-electric hybrid siblings – this includes Volvo’s ground-breaking Sensus nine-inch touch screen control system, satellite navigation with Real Time Traffic Information*, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive technology, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control and leather-faced upholstery. Depending on the trim level, T4 versions are available with wheels ranging from 18 to 21 inches.
The T4 engine joins the S90 and V90 ranges alongside the T6 in the V90 Cross Country, which was the first V90 variant to be offered as a pure petrol.
Volvo Car UK’s Head of Business Sales, Steve Beattie, commented: “Petrol is becoming an increasingly popular choice with motorists, including business users. It’s imperative we offer the range of engines that our customers demand, and we expect strong interest in the S90 and V90 T4.”
The S90 and V90 T4 are available to order now.