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Volvo Car Corporation's penchant for safety in the new V50 not only sets new standards for occupant protection in the class, it extends to protecting pedestrians and other road users outside the car.
The Volvo V50 has been designed with a forward section that incorporates clean, smooth surfaces and rounded corners. The lack of sharp corners and protruding features helps reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians and other road users in the event of a collision. There are also energy-absorbing properties in the hood and front fenders to reduce the risk of pedestrian head injuries and a soft structure ahead of the bumper to reduce the risk of leg injuries to pedestrians.
Inside, the new Volvo V50 offers the same high level of safety as the rest of the Volvo line, including the top-of-the-line Volvo S80 sedan.
"The objective is that the passenger compartment in all our vehicles act in a predictable manner in most types of collisions," says Ingrid Skogsmo, head of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre.
Attaining the same safety level as the S80 in a considerably smaller car is possible thanks to several interacting technologies, says Skogsmo. These include an extremely rigid body and a new front body structure.
The front structure of the new V50 - one of Volvo's many patented designs - has been divided into several crumple zones that employ different kinds of steel to absorb energy at varying rates in a collision. The activation - or deformation - of the crumple zones must occur within a shorter distance in a small car than it does in a larger vehicle, so the properties of the materials must be exploited to the maximum to absorb as much of the incoming energy as possible.
The objective is that the passenger compartment remains intact in most collisions. In order to give each zone the necessary properties to achieve this goal, four different steel grades are used. In addition to conventional bodywork steel, three different grades of high-strength steel are employed. The various deformation rates of the metals used in the crumple zones ensure that the closer the collision forces get to the passenger compartment, the less the materials deform.
The front structure includes an extremely rigid zone made of extra high-strength steel and a rigid cross-member that helps maintain cabin integrity in a severe crash. The section of the cross-member that turns outward toward the A-pillar acts as a barrier for the cabin space and as a back-up to help reduce deformation. The design helps minimize the risk of the front wheel penetrating the interior. The wheel instead helps to absorb the collision forces.
Volvo safety engineers also added a low-speed deformation zone with a series of crash boxes that absorb the forces of a low-speed collision without damage to the rest of the body structure. The crash boxes can be replaced easily.
Energy-absorbing side impact deformation zones provide significant occupant protection if the point of impact is higher than regular bumper height.
The V50's compact engines contribute to crash safety, too, offering greater space between the engine and passenger compartment. In a collision, the engine can be pushed 150 mm to the rear before the crankshaft comes into contact with the cross-member near the bulkhead.
The new Volvo V50 also shares the same type of interior safety systems as those found on the Volvo S60 and S80 models, including:
All interior safety systems are designed and sized with children in mind, and the V50 has provision for child booster cushions and rear-facing child seats.
The active safety facets of the new V50 begin with its torsionally rigid body (68 per cent stiffer than its predecessor), independent four-wheel suspension with a multi-link system at rear, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS (anti-lock braking), electronic brake-force distribution and EBA (Emergency Brake Assistance), and projector-type headlamps.
Other available safety features include STC (Stability and Traction Control) skid control system and DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control).
As well as active and passive safety, the Volvo V50 is designed to provide effective personal security for the car's occupants and their property while on the move and when the car is parked.
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