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Setting a new standard for safety in the SUV category


For immediate release


Volvo customers expect a high standard of safety, so the introduction of the new Volvo XC90 sport utility vehicle has set high expectations among traditional Volvo owners and potential new customers alike. They won't be disappointed.


The 2003 Volvo XC90 breaks new ground with innovative technologies that set a new standard for safety in the crowded SUV category.


Using a proven, holistic approach to safety that considers all aspects of the vehicle in an integrated safety design, Volvo Car Corporation engineers and designers started with the outstanding crashworthiness of the company's large car platform, then focussed on two areas of concern specific to SUVs.


The first area -- vehicle roll-over -- is approached from two directions and the results are integrated in the new Volvo Roll Over Protection System (ROPS).


By their nature, SUVs tend to have a higher centre of gravity. The XC90 design has kept the centre of gravity as low as possible (just 89 mm higher than the Volvo Cross Country), yet kept a commanding seating position for good visibility (165 mm higher than Cross Country). To deter vehicle roll-over, the XC90 incorporates a stability-enhancing system called Roll Stability Control (RSC).


This system employs a gyro-sensor to monitor the vehicle's roll speed and roll angle. A computer uses data from this and other sensors to calculate the risk of a roll-over. If the system anticipates the vehicle will approach a critical roll angle, it invokes the Dynamic Stability & Traction Control (DSTC) system to reduce engine power and apply the brakes to one or more wheels until stability is regained.


The system is most effective in helping maintain stability during extreme manoeuvres. The proven DSTC system has been used effectively in selected Volvo cars since 1999. RSC is the only active stability enhancement system on the market to measure the vehicle's roll angle. The system was developed jointly by Volvo and the Ford Motor Company.


The second approach to the issue of roll-over is passenger protection.


To enhance structural integrity, portions of the roof structure of the Volvo XC90 have been reinforced with Boron steel, an extremely tough alloy that is four- to five-times stronger than normal steel. All seating positions have three-point seat belts with pre-tensioners to keep occupants safely in their seats.


To help prevent occupants' heads from coming in contact with the vehicle's sides (and help prevent them from being ejected in severe incidents), a new version of the Volvo-designed Inflatable Curtain (IC) has been created. The new IC not only spans all three rows of seats, it follows the contour of the side window glass as it deploys down from the roof. Specially adapted for roll-over protection, the IC also remains inflated for a longer interval. Volvo is the only manufacturer to offer this protection for third-row passengers.


The company has also taken an innovative approach to a second aspect of SUV safety -- impact compatibility with passenger cars.


Because typical SUVs have higher ground clearance, their bumpers and other structural elements are often above those of a traditional passenger car. While modern cars have protective beams and crumple zones designed to dissipate energy when they collide with similar vehicles, those protective elements can simply slip below the front of an SUV without being activated. The occupants of the passenger car are often at risk in these collisions.


To reduce this risk, the front suspension subframe in the Volvo XC90 is supplemented with a lower cross-member that is positioned at the height of the beam in a conventional car. This lower structural member is integrated into the XC90 architecture and neatly concealed behind the spoiler. The design helps reduce the risk of injuries in other vehicles involved in frontal collisions, rear impact collisions and side impact collisions.


Pedestrians, cyclists and other relatively unprotected road users were also considered in the design of the Volvo XC90. With clean, smooth lines and no protruding parts, plus a hood design that deforms in the event a pedestrian lands on it, the front of the new Volvo reduces the risk of additional injuries to individuals.


Inside the Volvo XC90, the full array of safety technology has been integrated into the design to optimize passenger safety. Dual-stage front airbags, the Inflatable Curtain, belts with pre-tensioners and head restraints at all seating positions, WHIPS whiplash protection seats and a generous crumple zone behind the third row of seats are part of an holistic system of occupant protection.


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Lisa Graham

Volvo Cars of Canada Ltd.



Doug Mepham

MacDonald & Co.


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XC90 (2002-2014), Safety, 2003
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