Monday, 25 March 2019

Safety commitment is paying off

Safety commitment is paying off

WHILE others struggled in 2018 to kick-start the sale of new models, Volvo reported its best-ever annual car sales.

In 2018, Volvo sold 642,253 cars, an increase of 12.4 per cent compared with 2017.

Yet UK car sales last year saw the biggest annual fall since the financial crisis — new car registrations in 2018 were down 6.8 per cent on the previous year.

Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, said that in 2019 the carmaker saw “another year of volume growth as we continue to benefit from our strong product programme and increased capacity”.

But like a wily Premier League football coach on a roll, Mr Samuelsson remained pragmatic about the future in a car-manufacturing climate that has been described by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the trade association for the UK motor industry, as “very volatile”.

“We have to be realistic and acknowledge that margins will remain under continued pressure,” Mr Samuelsson said.

Appropriately enough, this week I have been driving the all-new second generation Volvo XC60 SUV (sport utility vehicle) that has quickly become the best-selling model in Volvo’s range.

Having witnessed recently on TV some horrific encounters recorded by drivers’ own on-board dashcams, I rate safety as my number one concern when it comes to driving on British roads today.

As I have said many times, Volvo has always been a great champion of safety first in cars.

I don’t think that I feel safer in any other make of car today other than a Volvo. But where Volvo scores and others are less than satisfactory is that the Swedish carmaker considers the safety and comfort of everyone who travels in their cars, not just the driver.

It is no coincidence that Volvo has boldly made a “death proof” cars pledge — by 2020, no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car or SUV, the company has stated.

A very interesting document produced by Volvo — the IntelliSafe Factsheet — records that the carmaker invented the first three-point safety belt in 1959, the first child’s booster cushion in 1978, and the Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) in 1991.

Volvo’s “people and safety’ focus started back in 1927, when its founders Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson declared: “Cars are driven by people. The guiding principle behind everything we make at Volvo therefore is — and must remain — safety.”

Volvo’s traffic accident research team was founded in 1970 and continues to be a mainstay of the company’s approach to safety.

Each year, the team studies extensive real-world crash data. This provides detailed information regarding crash-influencing factors, vehicle technologies and occupant injuries.

Based on this data, Volvo safety engineers set new targets and testing protocols, develop technologies and investigate the safety performance of cars in real-world traffic.

“We want to ensure that every new Volvo car is safer than the previous generation,” says Volvo.

Over the past 10 years this safety procedure has reduced serious injuries for occupants in Volvo cars by 50 per cent.

The XC60 is one of the strongest Volvo cars to date because of extensive use of boron steel, as well as numerous safety systems designed to protect people inside and outside the car.

Volvo’s “City Safety” technology, standard on all Volvo models, combines automatic braking functionality and collision avoidance systems to cover a range of potential accident scenarios. City Safety is the only system on the market that detects pedestrians, cyclists and large animals. The Pilot Assist driver assistance system, which is optional on the XC60, supports the driver with steering, distance and speed control in situations ranging from slow moving traffic jams to free-flowing long distance driving on motorways at speeds of up to 80mph.

The XC60 is powered by Volvo’s Drive-E powertrains, including petrol, diesel and Volvo’s T8 Twin Engine — a petrol plug-in hybrid mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission (which I shall be reporting on shortly).

Volvo’s Twin Engine plug-in hybrid delivers all the benefits of a high performance, low emission petrol engine with an electric motor that delivers power on demand with ultralow CO2 emissions.

All new Volvos are connected, through a connectivity and infotainment system called Sensus. This delivers an intuitive touchscreen interface that combines car functions, navigation, connected services and in-car entertainment applications such as Spotify, Pandora, Baidu or TuneIn.

The portrait-oriented touchscreen enables good access to functions and features. As in the 90 Series cars, smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is also available.

What price safety in cars? Of course, the answer is simple — safety is priceless.

Words: Nigel Wigmore

Factfile

Second generation Volvo XC60

Volvo’s five-door, five-seat mid-size SUV

Priced from £38,320 to £60,670

Second generation XC60 is the best-selling model in range

All new Volvos are connected by connectivity and infotainment system Sensus

XC60 powered by Drive-E powertrains, including petrol, diesel and T8 Twin Engine, a petrol plug-in hybrid

Volvo’s City Safety technology, standard on all Volvo models

Pilot Assist driver assistance system, optional on the XC60

Motoring

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