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The new Volvo XC60 crowns Volvo's long safety tradition

The new Volvo XC60 crowns Volvo's long safety tradition


In addition to the latest innovations such as City Safety, Trailer Stability Assist (TSA) and a further developed DSTC system, the Volvo XC60 is available with all the accident-avoidance and protective safety technologies that Volvo Cars offers today.


"The XC60 is the safest Volvo ever," says Volvo Cars President and CEO Fredrik Arp. "It brings together all the safety knowledge we have developed during the past 80 years."


Holistic view is a cornerstone

In 1927 Volvo's founders Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson stated, "Cars are driven by people. Therefore the guiding principle behind everything we make at Volvo is - and must remain - safety."

Since then Volvo Cars has introduced a number of groundbreaking technologies. The three-point seat belt from 1959 remains the single most effective lifesaver on the road today. Over the years, Volvo's cars have been equipped with an increasingly longer list of safety solutions - from crumple zones, safety cages, airbags and whiplash protection, to systems for dynamic stability and driving control.


However, it's the interaction between the various safety systems and functions, not the individual components that determines just how safe a car is. In a Volvo, safety is the result of a complete, integrated solution. This holistic view has from the very outset been a cornerstone of the Volvo Cars safety philosophy, and it remains very much a cornerstone today.


Focusing on the driver

Volvo Cars' development of safety solutions is based on three main approaches: the car, the traffic environment and the human being. The driver needs to be alert and have the ability to take quick decisions in stressful situations, which is often easier said than done.


"We focus on technologies that help the driver observe critical situations and avoid collisions. Traffic accidents should not be regarded as unavoidable," says Jonas Ekmark, manager of Preventive Safety at the Volvo Cars Safety Center. "With the right technology, we can give the driver the support needed to help avoid accidents."


Five Phase Analysis and development

With the aim of creating as sound basis as possible for the continuous development of safety technology from a human perspective, Volvo Cars is involved in far-reaching research based on real-life traffic situations. The Volvo Cars model and methodology for accident analysis means an extension of the traditional approach to traffic accident research by focusing on the entire sequence, divided into five phases - from non-conflict to post crash. Based on these phases, the company develops and enhances its safety solutions - all of which are now incorporated into the new Volvo XC60.



Phase 1: Non-Conflict

In the first phase, the foundation is laid for helping avoidance of critical situations. In Volvo's cars it is a basic requirement that the driver must always have good visibility and that the chassis, engine, brakes and steering together give the driver the best possible control over the vehicle. The driver and passenger in-car environment is another important factor that affects the well-being and attentiveness. Helping the driver to not use the vehicle after drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is yet another way of avoiding an accident. In addition, Volvo has recently developed a range of new technologies that help the driver maintain focus on the road (note: some of the systems/features mentioned below may be optional when the XC60 goes on sale).


  • Driver Alert Control (DAC): Unique technology to warn tired and inattentive drivers. This system monitors the car's progress between the lane markings and notifies the driver if his or her driving pattern is erratic or slightly uncontrolled. The driver is thus alerted long before his or her eyelids start drooping, and also in the event of distraction caused by other factors, such as when talking on a cell phone.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC): An adaptive cruise control that utilizes radar sensors to continuously monitor the vehicle in front. Automatically adjusts speed to maintain a selected distance behind the vehicle in front.
  • Distance Alert (DA): Comfort-enhancing detail that helps the driver maintain the selected time gap behind the vehicle in front even when the active cruise control is not activated.
  • Blind Spot Information System (BLIS): Helps detect vehicles in the blind spot both in daylight and darkness. A warning lamp comes on by the side mirror to alert the driver.
  • Intelligent Driver Information System (IDIS): Helps stop the driver being distracted by non-essential information in pressing situations, for instance by delaying incoming phone calls or SMS.
  • Active Bi-Xenon Lights: Moving headlight beams that follow the curve of the road when cornering for the best possible visibility when driving at night on twisting roads.
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS): A sensor and transmitter in each tire valve monitors and sends continuous information about the tire pressure.
  • Park Assist Camera (PAC) - rear: An advanced function that not only gives the driver an extra eye to the rear, it also shows the intended course prior to backing up.


Phase 2: Conflict

A critical situation is imminent: The car might be about to skid or the driver may (without realizing it) be speeding towards a vehicle that is at a standstill. In these and other situations, preventive safety functions can step in to stabilize the car or alert the driver. This gives the driver a better safety margin.

  • Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC): A stability-enhancement system that helps reduce the risk of skidding by cutting the engine's torque when necessary and applying properly calculated braking power. The function has been further developed in the new Volvo XC60 to register the car's roll rate as well. This is highly noticeable in dynamic driving where the car is exposed to high lateral forces. 
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW): Alerts the driver with a gentle warning sound if the car crosses one of the road markings without an obvious reason such as use of the turn indicator. This helps prevent single-vehicle road departure accidents as well as head-on collisions due to temporary distraction.
  • Roll Stability Control (RSC): An active stability-enhancing system that calculates the risk of rolling over. If the system assesses the risk as high, engine torque is restricted and some braking force is applied to one or more wheels to counteract the rollover tendency.
  • Collision Warning (CW): If the driver approaches another vehicle from the rear without reacting, a red warning light is projected on the windshield and a warning buzzer sounds. This prompts the driver to respond to the danger and in most cases avoid an accident. This function is part of Collision Warning with Auto Brake (see Phase 3).
  • Trailer Stability Assist (TSA): Helps dampen the snaking motion that can occur when towing a trailer. Stabilization is obtained by braking one or more wheels in the vehicle and by decreasing the engine torque. TSA is an entirely new function that is being launched together with the Volvo XC60.


Phase 3: Avoidance/Mitigation

 An accident is about to happen - the car in front may be so close that severe braking is essential. Some of Volvo's preventive safety functions can step in and respond if the driver can no longer avoid the collision. However, it's important to note that new preventive safety technologies do not relieve the driver from the primary responsibility of driving.


  • City Safety: This unique Volvo technology can help the driver avoid frontal collisions at low speed. If the driver is about to drive into the rear of a vehicle and does not react in time, the car will apply the brakes by itself. City Safety is being introduced as a world first standard in the new Volvo XC60.
  • Collision Warning with Auto Brake (CWAB): A function that first warns via an audible and visible signal, then engages the brake pads to reduce the braking system's response time, before braking automatically, if a front collision against a moving or standing vehicle is imminent.


Phase 4: Crash

What is important in this phase is to minimize the injuries to the cars' occupants. Volvos  are designed to offer occupants excellent collision protection with safety belts, pre-tensioners, airbags, inflatable curtains and a strong safety cage. All in all, these advanced safety technologies help make a Volvo one of the safest cars in its class. At the same time, every Volvo is designed to be as gentle as possible on the occupants of other cars and on unprotected road-users.


  • Reduction of impact speed: The collision is unavoidable - the autobrake feature reduces the speed of impact.
  • Crumple zones: The front body structure in a Volvo car is divided into several zones, each with a different task in the event of a collision. The outer zones account for most of the deformation. The closer the impact energy gets to the passenger compartment, the less the material deforms.The aim is that the passenger compartment should remain as intact as possible to help protect the occupants.
  • Lower cross-member that helps protect lower cars: The front suspension subframe in the new Volvo XC models are supplemented with a lower cross-member positioned at the height of the bumper beam in a conventional car. The lower cross-member strikes the oncoming car's protective structure, activating its crumple zone as intended so the occupants can be given the maximum level of protection.
  • Front that helps reduce pedestrian injuries: Volvo cars have energy-absorbing features including a well-proportioned, soft structure in front of the bumper. This helps to counteract the risk of leg injuries. In addition, the hoods have a raised shape with a honeycomb structure underneath that distributes the load in a similar way.
  • Compact, transversely installed engines: All Volvo models feature a transverse driveline and front-wheel drive. Transverse installation of the engine frees more space for deformation and helps reduce the risk of penetration into the passenger compartment in a frontal collision.
  • Three-point seat belt: In 1959 Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin invented the three-point seat belt which has been a Volvo standard ever since. The seat belt is today found in all car models, regardless the manufacturer, the world over. Therefore we often say that there is "a little bit of Volvo" in every car.
  • Seat belt pre-tensioner: In a collision, pre-tensioners automatically tighten the belt across the body to reduce the seat occupant's movement and help provide maximum protection.
  • Pre-Prepared Restraints (PRS): PRS is yet another new function in the new Volvo XC60. A laser sensor interacts with other on-board technology and controls the airbags and adaptive seat belt load limiters to suit the severity of the collision. The PRS can thereby contribute in further reducing injuries.
  • Airbags: Volvo Cars has continuously refined the technology to improve protection in both frontal and side impacts. For instance, Volvo was the first manufacturer in the world to offer a seat-mounted side airbag and an inflatable curtain (IC).
  • Side Impact Protection System (SIPS): A well-balanced combination of high-strength steel of different grades interacts to minimize penetration into the passenger compartment. According to our own and official statistics the patented SIPS together with the side-impact airbag reduces severe chest injuries with more than 50%. 
  • Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS): Volvo's system for avoiding neck injuries - WHIPS - is one of the most effective on the market. In the event of a rear-end collision the front seat backrest accompanies the passenger's initial body movement and dampens the incoming force rather like one's hand does when catching a ball.
  • Laminated windows: The optional panoramic roof in the XC60 is laminated to reduce the risk of glass shattering. All the other windows can be equipped with laminated glass for comfort and security reasons.
  • Integrated two-stage child booster cushion: In the early 1970s, Volvo Cars was the first car manufacturer to develop its own child seat. In 2007 the company presented yet another new development: the integrated two-stage child booster cushion. The booster cushion helps to position the lap belt correctly over the pelvis and gives the child an increased height to see out the window. The cushion is supplemented by a belt that is suited to the child's weight as well as an inflatable curtain (IC) that is extra-long to help protect the child's head.
  • Child seat anchorage system - ISOFIX: Volvo Cars has been one of the prime drivers behind the joint international project to develop the ISOFIX standard. ISOFIX is an attachment system that makes it easier to fit a child seat correctly in all cars equipped with the system.

Phase 5: Post Crash

Volvo has many years experience examining and following up on actual accidents involving Volvo cars. In order to extend the analysis to the chain of events that happens moments before the collision, Volvo Cars supplements its own statistics with external detailed studies and reconstructions of chains of events. The collective knowledge generated is later used in the development of new Volvo safety technology.


Volvo Cars' Traffic Accident Research Team

Volvo Cars' Traffic Accident Research Team traces its roots to the 1960s. A few years after Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin invented the three-point seat belt and Volvo Cars had introduced it as standard in front seats, a comprehensive survey was carried out of the seat belt's injury reducing effect.


The survey, which was carried out in 1966, encompassed all cases of injury in Sweden that involved a Volvo covering a period of one year. The results indicated that the seat belt reduced injury frequency by 50 percent. Volvo realized then that detailed knowledge about what actually happens with the vehicle and its occupants in a collision is valuable in the product development process. A decision was made in 1970 to establish the company's own Traffic Accident Research Team, which has worked continuously since then. Over the past 37 years, Volvo Cars' own traffic accident research unit has collected data from more than 36,000 accidents. This information has resulted in an invaluable contribution both to Volvo's own safety work and to traffic accident research in general.

The Volvo Cars Safety Center
In order to offer vehicles with world-class safety, Volvo Cars regards it as essential to ensure that the safety systems used cover every size of occupant, across a wide range of speeds and a broad spectrum of collision scenarios. For this reason 100-120 crash tests are performed with each new car model at the Volvo Cars Safety Center. Before the car even exists as a prototype it has been crashed several thousands of times in virtual simulators. This unique facility in Göteborg opened in 2000 and is among the most advanced centers of its kind. The tests form a highly effective complement to the experiences gained from accident research in the field.  

Volvo Cars' Safety milestones

1944 Safety cage

1944 Laminated windscreen

1959 Three-point seat belts in the front

1960 Padded instrument panel

1964 Prototype of the first rear-facing child seat is tested in a Volvo

1966 Twin-circuit triangular (three-wheel) backup braking system

1966 Crumple zones

1967 Seat belts in the rear

1968 Head restraints front

1969 Three-point inertia-reel seat belts in the front

1970 Volvo Cars' Traffic Accident Research Team established

1972 Three-point seat belts in the rear

1972 Rear-facing child seat and child-proof door locks

1972 Volvo Experimental Safety Car (VESC)

1973 Energy-absorbing steering column

1974 Energy-absorbing bumpers

1974 Gas tank relocated for enhanced safety

1978 Child booster cushion for children

1982 Under-run protection

1982 Door mirrors of wide-angle type

1984 ABS, anti-locking brakes

1986 Brake lights at eye level

1986 Three-point seat belt in the middle of the rear seat

1987 Seat belt pre-tensioner

1987 Driver's airbag

1990 Integrated booster cushion for children

1991 SIPS, side impact collision protection

1991 Automatic height adjustment of front seat belts

1993 Three-point inertia-reel seat belt in all the seats

1994 SIPS, side-impact airbags

1997 ROPS, Roll-Over Protection System convertible (C70)

1998 WHIPS, protection against whiplash injuries

1998 IC, inflatable curtain,

1998 DSTC, Dynamic Stability and Traction Control

2000 Volvo Cars Safety Centre inaugurated in Göteborg

2000 ISOFIX attachments for child seats

2000 Two-stage airbag

2000 Volvo On Call safety system

2000 Volvo Cars Safety Centre new crash laboratory inaugurated

2001 Volvo Safety Concept Car (SCC)

2002 RSC, Roll Stability Control

2002 ROPS, Roll-Over Protection System SUV (XC90)

2002 Lower cross-member at the front - protection system for oncoming cars

2002 Development of virtual "pregnant" crash-test dummy

2003 IDIS, intelligent system for driver information

2003 Patented new structure at the front reduces collision forces

2003 Bangkok's Traffic Accident Research Centre (TARC) is inaugurated

2004 BLIS, system for information about the blind spot offset rear

2004 DMIC, door-mounted side airbag for convertibles

2005 Volvo's co-driver-system

2005 Multi Lock, combined alcolock and lock for the seat belt and key for speed restriction (research project)

2006 ACC, Adaptive Cruise Control

2006 Personal Car Communicator (PCC)

2006 Collision warning with brake support

2006 Active Bi-Xenon headlamps

2007 Integrated two-stage child booster cushion

2007 CWAB, Collision Warning with Auto Brake

2007 Driver Alert

2007 Lane Departure Warning

2007 Alcoguard (currently not available in the U.S.)

2008 Pre-Prepared Restraints

2008 City Safety, low speed collision avoidance

Volvo XC60, 2009, Product News
Descriptions and facts in this press material relate to Volvo Cars' international car range. Described features might be optional. Vehicle specifications may vary from one country to another and may be altered without prior notification.