For immediate release
FRANKFURT (September 12, 2005) – Volvo Car Corporation developed the new Volvo C70 to be one of the safest convertibles on the market, both when it comes to preventive safety and protective safety.
The car has a body structure that offers a range of solutions unique to an open-top car. Engineers compensated for the lack of a fixed roof with reinforcements and sophisticated technology.
When the first C70 was launched in 1996, the aim was for it to be one of the safest convertibles on the market. In accordance with the Volvo Cars’ mandate to expand its safety leadership with every successive generation of vehicles, the company believes the new C70 is safer in every area.
“It is a major challenge, but the original C70 was an excellent platform for us to start from,” says Ingrid Skogsmo, head of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre. “We know the type of accident a convertible is exposed to and how protection should be built. And it is not just a question of protective safety. It is equally important to prevent accidents as we recognize that a convertible is sometimes driven a little more actively.”
The new Volvo C70 has extensive safety systems that contribute to safer driving, the majority of which are standard. If an accident should occur, a series of protection systems come into play.
Different thinking behind advanced side impact and rollover protection
“Our aim was that the new Volvo C70 should have the same effective side impact protection as the Volvo sedan models,” says Skogsmo. “But as the car does not have a fixed roof we were compelled to find alternative solutions.”
To provide optimum protection in a side impact, Volvo’s Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) has been further developed. In a side collision, the B-pillar is exposed to considerable force. In a sedan model the force is spread up into the roof structure. In a convertible this is not possible as the pillars end at the car’s shoulders. The B-pillars in the C70 have extra reinforcements and are linked to each other through a powerful, transverse floor member to distribute crash energy down and away from the passenger cabin. In total, there are five transverse members or walls placed along the length of the car. A flexible deformation box between each B-pillar and the transverse member also helps to absorb the collision forces.
The sills have been given a much more powerful profile than in the Volvo sedan models and, being laser-welded, they offer additional strength. They have also been raised behind the B-pillars to offer even better protection, even if the other vehicle happens to be taller, such as an SUV.
The doors play an important role in side impact protection. They have a diagonally mounted steel bar to help prevent intrusion into the passenger compartment. The doors are also designed to hook onto the B-pillars and remain closed when they are subjected to collision forces.
Transverse members in front of the passenger compartment and a horseshoe-shaped member behind the rear seat channel the forces to the opposite side of the body, thus reducing the risk of intrusion into the passenger compartment.
Door-mounted inflatable curtain and pretensioners in all seats
An important part of the side impact and rollover protection is the inflatable curtain (IC). In the new Volvo C70 it has been given a unique design.
“As there are no roof members to which the curtain can be attached, it is mounted in the door,” says Skogsmo. “When activated it is directed upward.”
The curtain has an extra stiff construction with double rows of slats that are slightly displaced in relation to each other. This allows them to remain upright and offer effective head protection even with the window open. The curtain also deflates slowly to provide protection should the car roll over – a unique feature in the automotive industry.
In addition to the inflatable curtain, the passengers in the front seat have side impact airbags adapted to cover both the chest and hip.
The inflatable curtain interacts with the seat belt pretensioners found in every seat to help provide maximum protection in a side impact or a rollover accident.
Hydro-formed A-pillars in Extra High Strength steel
The new Volvo C70 has very stable roadholding manners, due largely to a dynamic, compliant chassis and a very rigid body. The risk of the car rolling over is limited but cannot be ignored. As the car does not have a permanent roof with A, B and C pillars, the demands on the windscreen pillars, the A-pillars, are particularly high.
Hydro-formed Extra High Strength steel provides the strength and the A-pillars have been shaped without joints or sharp angles.
ROPS bars further developed
As with its predecessor, the new Volvo C70 has powerful metal bars behind the passengers in the rear seat to provide extra protection should the car roll over. The bars, which are part of the Rollover Protection System (ROPS) have been developed further in several areas. While more robust, they are now activated with the aid of a pyrotechnic charge for faster deployment than the previous model. As the new Volvo C70 has a rear window made of glass, the bars must be pushed up through the glass if the roof is up and have been fitted with small, hard metal spikes.
Patented front structure to provide controlled deformation
The front structure is divided into zones, each with a different task during deformation. The more the collision forces approach the passenger compartment, the less the material is deformed thanks to four different types of steel. Apart from normal body steel, three different grades of high-strength steel are used: High Strength steel, Extra High Strength steel and Ultra High Strength steel.
What challenges the convertible design from a sedan model is that the collision forces cannot be channeled up into the body structure.
“The lack of a fixed roof means that the forces must instead be channeled along the sides of the body in a frontal collision or an offset collision,” says Skogsmo. “This means greater demands on the doors, which have been reinforced with a powerful, longitudinal aluminum member along the upper edge. The aim is that it should help keep the passenger compartment intact by channeling the forces backwards in the body structure. At the bottom, the forces are channeled backwards via the sturdy body sills.”
Compact engines and effective packing technique
The engine bay in the new Volvo C70, thanks to an efficient and compact engine design, offers a generous amount of space between the engine and the passenger compartment. In the event of a collision, the engine can move 150 mm backwards before the crankshaft comes into contact with the transverse beam beside the cowl.
The steering column can be deformed up to 140 mm horizontally so the airbag can assume the most effective position for protection. In a frontal collision the deformation zones interact with the interior restraint system, with dual stage airbags, seat belt pretensioners and load limiters, to help protect the occupants in the most effective way.
Protection for other road users
The rounded shape of the body and the flat surfaces help reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians, cyclists and other road-users in the event of an accident. The front also has a soft, energy-absorbing structure ahead of the bumper to counteract the risk of leg injuries. The hood and quarter panels are designed to absorb energy and contribute to reducing the risk of injury.
The new Volvo C70 is designed to provide effective protection in the event of a rear-end collision. The rear longitudinal members are designed to deform in a controlled way and distribute the collision forces forward in the body structure.
A horseshoe-shaped member behind the rear seat and a double metal wall behind the backrest contribute to reducing the risk of intrusion into the passenger compartment. If the roof is down, it works together with the double wall to absorb the collision forces. The ROPS bars are also pushed upwards in the event of a rear-end collision to reduce the risk of the passengers being hit by flying objects.
The Volvo Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS) is standard in the new C70 as it is in all Volvo vehicles. In the event of a rear-end collision, the backrest and head restraint follow the movements of the seat occupant’s body to reduce the effect of g-forces on soft tissues in the neck and back.
“The new Volvo C70 is great fun to drive,” says Skogsmo. “And as driving pleasure goes hand in hand with driving safety at Volvo Cars, this also means the car is easy to control, even in unexpected situations. It always behaves consistently and predictably.”
The new Volvo C70 has twice the torsional rigidity of the earlier C70 model thanks to a body structure that has been further developed and reinforced. Rigidity contributes to stability and predictable driving characteristics. The chassis design, with its broad track and long wheelbase, also has a positive effect on driving stability.
Secure driving with a steel roof
While a steel roof helps reduce the risk of a break-in, security in the new Volvo C70 is also provided by allowing owners to lock away their possessions. Several of the car’s storage areas are linked to the car’s central locking system for convenient locking using the remote control. Volvo Cars’ new Private Locking system enables certain compartments in the interior to be locked with the key from the glove compartment. Private Locking is particularly useful in a convertible parked with the roof down.
“It is important for us at Volvo Cars that we can offer a high level of safety even in a convertible,” says Skogsmo. “We have tried to find new ways of solving the special problems that arise with an open car.”
Volvo Cars of Canada Ltd. is part of the Volvo Car Corporation of Göteborg, Sweden. The company provides marketing, sales, parts, service, technology and training support to the 43 Volvo automobile retailers across the country. The company’s product range includes the flagship S80 luxury sedan, the versatile V70 wagon, the S60 sports sedan, and the completely redesigned S40 sports sedan and V50 sportswagon. For buyers looking for more rugged versatility, the Volvo XC-line of vehicles that includes the XC70 and the award-winning XC90 sport utility vehicle.
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