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Volvo celebrates 80 years of safety

13 April 2007

Some principles never change. And after 80 years of safety advances from Volvo, the philosophy expressed by the company's founders is more appropriate than ever:

"Cars are driven by people. Therefore the guiding principle behind everything we make at Volvo is - and must remain - safety"

 (Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson)

Volvo will celebrate its 80th anniversary on 14 April - just a month after the world premiere of the all-new Volvo V70 and XC70 in Geneva. As always, new Volvo models come with improved safety features, and the new arrivals are equipped with extended inflatable curtains which, in combination with adjustable child booster cushions, belt force limiters adapted for children and a strong side structure, help to provide children of different heights with effective protection in a side collision. Child safety has always been important to Volvo, which introduced the first rear-facing child seats on the market as early as in the 1960s.

The philosophy of the founding fathers has provided the basis for many other new safety features over the years. One example is the safety cage, which was introduced in the Volvo PV 444 in 1944, together with the laminated windscreen, and was among the first major safety features in the company's cars. The three-point safety belt - the most important of all Volvo's inventions - appeared in 1959. This is considered to be one of the technical inventions that has saved most lives in the history of mankind. Side-impact protection (SIPS) was introduced in 1991 and the WHIPS whiplash protection system in 1998. In today's models, the crumple zone introduced in 1966 has been refined with the use of four different grades of steel to optimise the absorption of collision forces.

For the last 37 years, Volvo's own accident research team has been studying and learning from accidents involving Volvo cars. The team provides Volvo's research and development function with vital knowledge on a continuous basis.

Volvo envisages a future in which the traffic environment will be completely safe. In this vision, cars will be equipped with intelligent systems that will not only help to improve driver alertness, but may even take control of the car if the driver does not react in sufficient time to avoid an impending emergency. This work is already in full progress. The latest Volvo cars incorporate several advanced safety systems that assist the driver in this respect. These include BLIS, which warns of vehicles in the blind spot and Collision Warning with Brake Support which, in addition to visual and audible warnings, ‘primes’ the brakes to help avoid a collision with the vehicle in front.

"The thrust of our new safety philosophy is to place human capability at the centre of our research work and future systems development. The objective is to help the driver to keep his or her hands on the wheels and eyes on the road," explains Ingrid Skogsmo, director of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre, who was named Woman of the Year 2006 by the influential trade magazine Automotive News.

City Safety, which was unveiled for the first time in the XC60 Concept at the Detroit Motor Show earlier this year, represents yet another step towards this vision. The system itself can, in some situations, apply the brakes to avoid a collision and Volvo Cars hopes that its use will prevent half of all  rear-end collisions. City Safety is scheduled for commercial introduction within the next two years.

Milestones in 80 years of Volvo safety

1944 - Safety cage

1944 - Laminated windscreen

1959 - Three-point safety belts in front seats

1960 - Padded dashboard

1964 - Prototype of first rear-facing child seat

1966 - Dual-circuit braking system

1966 - Crumple zones

1967 - Safety belts in rear seat

1968 - Head restraints in front seats

1969 - Three-point, inertia-reel safety belts in front seats

1972 - Three-point, inertia-reel safety belts in rear seats

1972 - Rear-facing child seat and childproof locks

1972 - Volvo Experimental Safety Car (VESC)

1973 - Collapsible steering column

1974 - Energy-absorbent bumpers

1974 - Crash-protected location of fuel tank

1978 - Child booster cushion

1982 - Anti-submarining protection

1982 - Wide-angle door mirrors

1984 - ABS (Anti-lock Braking System)

1986 - High-level brake light

1986 - Three-point safety belt in centre rear seat

1987 - Safety belt pretensioners

1987 - Driver airbag

1990 - Integrated child booster cushion

1991 - SIPS (Side Impact Protection System)

1991 - Automatic height adjustment of front safety belts

1993 - Three-point, inertia-reel safety belts standard in all seats

1994 - SIPS bags (side-impact airbags)

1997 - ROPS (Rollover Protection System) in C70 Convertible

1998 - WHIPS (Whiplash Protection System)

1998 - Inflatable side-impact curtain (IC)

2000 - Inauguration of Volvo Cars Safety Centre in Göteborg

2000 - ISOFIX attachment system for child seat

2000 - Dual-stage inflation airbags

2000 - Volvo On Call security and roadside assistance system

2001 - Volvo Safety Concept Car (SCC)

2002 - RSC (Roll Stability Control) active stability system in Volvo XC90

2002 - Further-developed ROPS

2002 - Lower front crossmember in Volvo XC90 to increase safety compatibility with lower cars

2002 - Development of virtual, pregnant crash dummy

2003 - IDIS (Intelligent Driver Information System)

2003 - New, patented front-end structure for increased collision protection

2004 - BLIS (Blind Spot Information System)

2004 - DMIC (Door-mounted Inflatable Curtain) for convertibles

2004 - ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control)

2005 - Volvo CoDriver support system (concept)

2005 - Volvo MultiLock (research project)

2005 - Driver Alert warning system for fatigued drivers (concept)

2006 - Personal Car Communicator with heartbeat sensor

2006 - Active Bi-Xenon lights with swivelling headlamps

2006 - Collision Warning with Brake Support

2007 - Volvo City Safety system for avoiding low-speed collisions (concept)

2007 - Second generation of WHIPS whiplash protection system

2007 - New, stronger side structure using different grades of high-strength steel

2007 - Integrated two-stage child booster cushion with force limiter adapted for children

2007 - Extended inflatable curtains for enhanced child safety

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