Volvo Cars, the premium carmaker, is celebrating 20 years of mechanical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) by putting some of its most capable cars through their paces on the frozen lakes around the Northern Swedish ski resort of Åre.
The Swedish car maker is running a winter test drive showcasing its leading mechanical and new electric All-Wheel Drive solutions on the all-road, all-weather XC90, V90 Cross Country and V40 Cross Country models.
“Volvo cars are well known for what we call ‘framkomlighet’ in Swedish – the ability to get you wherever you want to go – regardless of the weather conditions. This is an important part of our heritage and a clear reflection of who we are and where we come from. With the recent addition of electric All-Wheel Drive to our top-of-the-line products we have further refined our performance in this important area,” said Henrik Green, Senior Vice President, Research & Development at Volvo Cars.
Advances in AWD technology mean that improved handling, stability and traction continue to provide a confident, agile and enjoyable driving experience while reducing fuel consumption.
“Electrification will bring ever more flexibility to AWD. You can see the first signs of this in our XC90 T8 Twin Engine, where we have an electric rear-axle drive unit powering the rear wheels. As we move to full battery electric vehicles and other powertrain applications, we will see increased opportunities to control each motor and wheel independently, based on either the surface conditions or the desired driving style,” said Henrik Green.
As AWD technology has advanced, the weight of mechanical systems has come down and efficiency has improved. Since the introduction of efficient ‘Active On Demand’ technology, all four wheels are always engaged to allow for the instant distribution of torque to the rear wheels when needed. The actual torque applied is controlled to constantly deliver the right properties regarding handling, stability and traction at any moment. Volvo Cars’ current mechanical AWD system is modular in design and used on all Volvo models.
“We understand the needs of our customers. We understand the need for a flexible AWD solution that quickly and automatically adapts to different real-world, all-weather circumstances. AWD is as much a safety feature as it is a vehicle dynamics system and we are committed to delivering a confident, balanced and enjoyable driving experience that delivers a feeling of full control,” added Henrik Green.
All-Wheel Drive variants account for over 50 per cent of new 90 Series car orders for the Swedish carmaker. Across the wider Volvo Cars model range, the figure is over 40 per cent.
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Volvo’s research into and testing of AWD systems goes back more than 20 years. The first AWD Volvo car to go into serial production was the Volvo 850 Estate, launched in May 1996 with the 2.5l turbocharged I5T engine developing 193 hp and a five-speed manual transmission.
The Volvo V70, based largely on the 850, came with AWD from 1997 onwards. The same year, Volvo produced its first ‘Cross Country’ V70XC variant, helping to develop a completely new type of car with a rugged design and capable characteristics that is now a familiar sight both on the road and off the beaten track.
Volvo Cars introduced its AWD program just as it began development work on the first generation XC90, its award-winning entry into the SUV segment, launched in 2002 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The first generation XC90 came with an optional Haldex Traction Generation 2 AWD system on the turbocharged 2.5T petrol engine. The T6, a 3.2L power plant came with AWD as standard.
Volvo Car Group in 2015/16
For the 2015 financial year, Volvo Car Group recorded an operating profit of 6,620 MSEK (2,128 MSEK in 2014). Revenue over the period amounted to 164,043 MSEK (137,590 MSEK). For the full year 2016, global sales reached a record 534,332 cars, an increase of 6.2 per cent versus 2015. The record sales and operating profit cleared the way for Volvo Car Group to continue investing in its global transformation plan. Full financial results for 2016 will be announced in February.
About Volvo Car Group
Volvo has been in operation since 1927. Today, Volvo Cars is one of the most well-known and respected car brands in the world with sales of 534,332 cars in 2016 in about 100 countries. Volvo Cars has been under the ownership of the Zhejiang Geely Holding (Geely Holding) of China since 2010. It formed part of the Swedish Volvo Group until 1999, when the company was bought by Ford Motor Company of the US. In 2010, Volvo Cars was acquired by Geely Holding.
As of December 2016, Volvo Cars had around 30,000 employees worldwide. Volvo Cars head office, product development, marketing and administration functions are mainly located in Gothenburg, Sweden. Volvo Cars head office for China is located in Shanghai. The company’s main car production plants are located in Gothenburg (Sweden), Ghent (Belgium), Chengdu and Daqing (China), while engines are manufactured in Skövde (Sweden) and Zhangjiakou (China) and body components in Olofström (Sweden).