Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Volvo’s vision of a safer future is clearly in sight

Volvo’s vision of a safer future is clearly in sight

AS Volvo moves into a future of producing super-safe cars, the firm’s 2020 models display advanced technologies that are a clear sign of things to come.

Volvo’s so-called Safety Vision is both ambitious and close to hand — the Swedish carmaker’s aim is that by next year, 2020, no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo.

Driving the carmaker’s flagship XC90 SUV (sport utility vehicle) this week, I can appreciate the serious intent of this much-publicised ambition.

I have also recently been at the wheel in France of the XC60 SUV and will report back on that trip soon.

But the message is clear when driving these modern Volvo cars — safety is paramount not just for drivers but also for everyone travelling in the vehicle.

Of course, in one sense, there is nothing new about Volvo’s commitment to safety. The carmaker has been expounding the necessity for safety first for many years, while others paid it lip service.

As far back as 1959 Volvo famously pioneered the three-point safety belt, which undoubtedly has saved many lives over the decades since. In 1972 came the rearward-facing child safety seat, in 1976 the appearance of the child booster seat, and in 1990 an integrated booster built right into the seat.

Another major step forward for safety came in 1991 with SIPS — the Side Impact Protection System. The list of safety “firsts” goes on and on. We should not be surprised that Volvo’s Safety Vision is on target for 2020.

Earlier this year Volvo for the first time made its safety knowledge accessible in a central digital library. The carmaker urged the car industry to use the service known as Project EKA, in the interest of safer roads for all.

“We have data on tens of thousands of real-life accidents, to help ensure our cars are as safe as they can be for what happens in real traffic,” said Lotta Jakobsson, professor and senior technical specialist at the Volvo Cars Safety Centre. This initiative celebrates 60 years’ worth of sharing research into car safety with the world.

All this should be comforting to motorists who feel intimidated by the sheer volume of cars on our roads today and the frequent ferocity and lack of careful driving displayed by some drivers.

Certainly, driving in France, I simply felt safer because I was in a Volvo. The same feeling has translated this past week into driving the XC90 here in the UK.

What I liked about this car, apart from the security of being in a large SUV, was its attention to detail for all those travelling — not just the driver but for all passengers.

That said, I don’t think we all have to drive around in large SUVs to feel safe: Volvo’s ethos being spread across its range of models, big or small.

Volvo’s automotive safety commitment is confirmed in the XC90. On a technical note of build quality, the carmaker says the SPA platform used in manufacture has resulted in the “strongest Volvo cars to date because of extensive use of boron steel”.

Volvo’s City Safety technology, standard on all 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 such as moose and deer.

The Pilot Assist driver assistance system works at up to 80mph on clearly marked roads and is another step towards Volvo’s Vision 2020 on safety.

The car’s exterior design has been upgraded for the 2020 model year, with new wheels, exterior colours and a modern new grille, among other details.

In the cabin of the XC90 there is a palpably calm environment that augurs well for long journeys. This is offset with a blend of high-end materials such as wood, crystal and metal and a modern Scandinavian design.

The XC90 comes with a range of different seating options, from the four-seat, luxurious Excellence variant and the seven-seat family SUV to a new six-seat configuration. New interior materials include a wool blend option.

All new Volvos are connected by a connectivity and infotainment system called Sensus.

This delivers an intuitive touch screen 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 easy and fast access to a host of functions and features. Smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is also available.

The model year 2020 XC90 also for the first time offers Volvo’s advanced kinetic energy recovery braking system. This is coupled with its existing internal combustion engines to create a new integrated electrified powertrain, under its new B badge.

This new electrified powertrain offers drivers up to 15 per cent fuel savings and emission reductions in real world driving.

Factfile

Volvo XC90

Updated range, priced from £52,235 on the road

XC90: Volvo’s seven-seat SUV and carmaker’s flagship

XC90: powered by Drive-E powertrains, including petrol and diesel

T8 Twin Engine, petrol plug-in hybrid mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with extended electric driving range

Efficient mild-hybrid diesel powertrain makes UK debut in XC90

Motoring

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