On average, it crashes at least one brand-new Volvo a day. And it has been instrumental in preserving Volvo Cars’ position as a leader in automotive safety to this very day.
This year, the Volvo Cars Safety Centre crash lab celebrates its 20th anniversary. At the time of its opening by the Swedish king in 2000 it was one of the most advanced crash labs in the world, and in many ways it still is today.
To this day, it helps Volvo Cars’ engineers to push the envelope in safety and to learn from real-life traffic accidents, as the company aims for a future in which no one is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car.
“Being committed to safety is not about passing a test or getting a safety rating,” said Thomas Broberg, one of Volvo Cars’ leading safety engineers and a two-decade company veteran. “Our commitment to safety is about finding out how and why accidents and injuries occur, and then developing the technology to help prevent them. We hope our pioneering work will inspire others to follow our ambition to reduce road traffic casualties worldwide.”
The Volvo Cars Safety Centre crash lab is a multifunctional facility that allows Volvo Cars’ safety engineers to recreate countless traffic situations and accidents, and perform tests that go beyond regulatory requirements.
The lab contains two test tracks of 108 and 154 metres long respectively. The shorter of the two is moveable and can be positioned at an angle between 0 and 90 degrees, allowing for crash tests at different angles and speeds, or to simulate a crash between two moving cars. Cars can be crashed at speeds up to 75mph (120km/h).
Outside, there is room for performing tests such as roll-over crashes and run-off-road scenarios, whereby cars are launched into a ditch at high speeds. Here, Volvo Cars also offers rescue services opportunities to hone their life-saving skills, as it did earlier this year when it dropped new Volvos from a height of 30 metres to simulate the heavy damage found in extreme crash scenarios.
Inside the main hall, an enormous crash barrier is used for testing various frontal, rear and side impacts. Weighing an astonishing 850 tonnes, it can be moved around if needed with the help of air cushions.
Additionally, there are around two dozen other fixed and movable barriers that are used in crash testing, including a moose-like structure to simulate crashes involving these animals.
During crashes, the car, the crash test dummies and the barriers are fitted with sensors that allow Volvo Cars’ engineers to register the entire chain of events in detail. Dozens of ultra-high-definition cameras also film the crash test from every angle imaginable.
Before a physical crash test, the car model in question has already gone through thousands of computer-simulated crash tests. All the data generated by these tests is then used by Volvo’s engineers to develop safer cars.
As the company moves towards an all-electric future, the Safety Centre has in recent years been equipped and prepared specifically to safely execute electric car crash tests as well.
“No matter what the scenario, we can recreate it here at the Volvo Cars Safety Centre and analyse it in detail,” said Thomas Broberg. “For me, it is very inspiring to realise that for every hour of testing and analysis we put in, we get closer and closer to our ambition that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car.”
Volvo Car Group in 2019
For the 2019 financial year, Volvo Car Group recorded an operating profit of 14.3 BSEK (14.2 BSEK in 2018). Revenue over the period amounted to 274.1 BSEK (252.7 BSEK). For the full year 2019, global sales reached a record 705,452 (642,253) cars, an increase of 9.8 per cent versus 2018. The results underline the comprehensive transformation of Volvo Cars’ finances and operations in recent years, positioning the company for its next growth phase.
About Volvo Car Group
Volvo Cars was founded in 1927. Today, it is one of the most well-known and respected car brands in the world, with sales of 705,452 cars in 2019 in about 100 countries. Volvo Cars has been under the ownership of the Zhejiang Geely Holding since 2010.
In 2019, Volvo Cars employed on average approximately 41,500 (41,500) full-time employees. Volvo Cars’ head office, product development, marketing and administration functions are mainly located in Gothenburg, Sweden. Volvo Cars’ head office for APAC is located in Shanghai. The company’s main car production plants are located in Gothenburg (Sweden), Ghent (Belgium), South Carolina (US), Chengdu and Daqing (China), while engines are manufactured in Skövde (Sweden) and Zhangjiakou (China), and body components in Olofström (Sweden).
Under its new company purpose, Volvo Cars aims to provide customers with the Freedom to Move in a personal, sustainable and safe way. This purpose is reflected in a number of business ambitions: for example, by the middle of this decade it aims for half of its global sales to be fully electric cars and to establish five million direct consumer relationships. Volvo Cars is also committed to an ongoing reduction of its carbon footprint, with the ambition to be a climate-neutral company by 2040.