Immediate help in an emergency is high on every motorist’s wish list. Volvo On Call is the world’s first fully-integrated and factory-fitted SOS system for cars.
“With a subscription to Volvo On Call, assistance is never far away,” explains Joost van den Bosch, Extended Offer Manager at Volvo Cars.
This spring, Volvo On Call was launched in seven European countries – Belgium, Britain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden. The Volvo On Call service centres in these countries are manned 24 hours a day.
A further seven countries – Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, Spain, Germany and Austria – have access to the service, although contact is through an international service centre. Other countries will be added in the course of time.
“We are taking one step at a time,” explains Joost van den Bosch. “Volvo On Call is working everywhere. In a few years, we expect to cross the Atlantic and introduce a full-scale system in the USA.”
Volvo On Call consists of two packages, a basic package focusing on safety and a supplementary package dealing with security.
The basic package contains the hardware, Volvo’s integrated GSM telephone and a GPS receiver, together with a five-year subscription to the services. The subscription is related to the car and accompanies if it changes owner.
With the basic package installed in the car, the alarm is activated automatically in the event of an accident if one of the airbags or seat belt pretensioners is deployed. The driver can also activate the alarm manually by a simple pushbutton operation.
When the service centre receives an automatic alarm, the operator calls back to get more information on the type of help required. If nobody in the car answers, the police and ambulance service are alerted. The service centre operators can determine the location and status of the car. For example, they can tell if the airbags have been deployed, if the windows are shut and the doors are locked, how much fuel is left in the tank and what the temperature in the car is. This helps the centre to ensure that the appropriate assistance is directed to the scene as quickly as possible.
“When people are critically ill or have been involved in a severe accident, every minute is precious. Immediate assistance helps to save lives,” stresses Joost van den Bosch.
“Saving lives is priority number one. This is the primary reason for introducing Volvo On Call.”
The basic package also includes a request for road assistance if the emergency is confined to a
Additional features provided by the supplementary package include an automatic alarm if the car alarm goes off, tracking of a stolen car and alerting of the police, as well as remote unlocking of the vehicle if the keys are lost. This package is personal to the car owner.
The EU also prioritises SOS systems in accident situations. Under an EU proposal, all new vehicles from 2009-2010 on will be equipped with systems linked to the national emergency number.
“Volvo On Call already complies comfortably with that provision. We go even further than that
with our security services, automatic alarm function, request for road assistance and tracking of stolen vehicles.”
Volvo On Call is likely to further development in future. One idea is to carry out vehicle diagnostics remotely, another is to install software remotely and a third is to provide navigation assistance.
“Features like these will make life easier for the owner,” says Joost van den Bosch.
“But that’s really the icing on the cake. The primary purpose of Volvo On Call is to save lives and minimise the risk of severe disablement.”
Medical people talk of ‘the golden hour’ – the critical period when treatment of an injured person helps to greatly reduce the risk of permanent after-effects.
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