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Climate control the key to safe winter driving


For Immediate Release

Effective climate control the key to safe and comfortable winter driving


ROCKLEIGH, NJ -- The snow and ice of the winter do not simply pose a challenge for the driving characteristics of a car.


Safe, comfortable winter driving also calls for an effective climate control system, which helps to keep windows and mirrors free from mist and ice.


The new Volvo Cross Country and the other new cars from the Volvo Cars’ large platform have a string of refinements designed to make driving a car in the winter as problem-free as possible.


Swedish winters are notoriously dark, cold and long. Volvo’s legendary climate control systems help insure safe and comfortable driving with features like: rear window and rearview side mirrors feature electrical heating, heated two level driver and front-passenger seats with two heat settings. Also, very shortly after engine startup, the climate unit starts to blow air into the cabin. When the coolant in the engine has been heated to 96°F, the heating process gradually accelerates.


Computer-controlled heating

The most advanced climate unit, ECC (Electronic Climate Control), which is standard in all but entry level S60’s, has two temperature sensors and a solar sensor. The information they provide is used by the climate unit computer to calculate how the air is to be heated and where it should be blown into the cabin to remove mist from the windows and produce a pleasant climate in the shortest possible time.


”At temperatures of more than about 37°F, the air-conditioning system acts as a dehumidifier and this helps to remove mist even more quickly. Otherwise, the principle is that most heat is distributed to the floor and windows. After all, this is where the moisture is usually found, on windows and shoes,” explains Fredrik Norin, climate expert at Volvo Cars, Sweden.


To remove the mist from the front and rear windows as quickly as possible, Volvo’s S60, V70, Cross Country, and S80 models have high-level air vents in the B-pillars between the front and rear seats. In the summer, these vents also help to improve the comfort in the rear seat. At the same time, the panel vents at the front have been optimized to produce a draught-free climate.


Another new refinement is the air inlet at the very front on the dashboard, at the lower edge of the windshield. It helps to keep the windshield wipers free from ice, while distributing the air flow on the inside of the windshield more effectively.


A hot car is an unsafe car

A constant, pleasant temperature inside the car plays a very important part in safe driving. ”One of the most common mistakes is that, in their eagerness to make the car warm and cosy, people choose far too high a temperature. This often results in the temperature inside the car being much too high once the car has heated up,” says Fredrik Norin.


Volvo Cars, Sweden research clearly indicates that an overly high passenger compartment temperature can jeopardize driving safety.


Two groups of test drivers drove the same route with two different temperatures inside the car, 79 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit respectively. ”The number of mistakes and action that should have been taken but were not was dramatically higher in the group that drove at the higher temperature. This clearly indicates that a driver who is too hot is also a worse driver. I would like to stress that this is not simply a summer problem. The danger that results from a high temperature is just as great in a car that has been heated to an excessively high temperature in the winter,” explains Fredrik Norin.


Volvo’s climate system has been designed to be straightforward and easy to operate.


With the advanced ECC unit, all the driver needs to do is select the desired temperature. In the Automatic Mode, the unit itself adjusts fan speed and air distribution to match the prevailing interior conditions. It goes without saying that individual selection, Manual Mode, is also possible.


Advanced filter produces cleaner cabin air

The quality of the air inside the car is also an important comfort and health factor. As the cold has a negative effective on combustion, the ambient air contains more unburnt particles during the winter than in the summer.


So it is important to underline the fact that, like all the other cars from the Volvo Cars’ large platform, the Volvo Cross Country is clean from the inside out.


Hazardous particles trapped

Among other things, the Volvo Cross Country is equipped with effective filters, which help to make the air inside the car cleaner than that outside.


Medical research reveals that the principal health risks when it comes to air pollution are associated with the content of very small particles in the air (about 0.3 micrometers and finer). Volvo therefore imposes extremely rigorous demands on all its cars when particulate filters are chosen.


In cars with ECC, it is also possible to specify an optional air quality filtration system, known as the Interior Air Quality System (IAQS).


The car then has a gas filter containing active carbon, which helps to purify both recirculated air from the cabin and the outside air. The system also features a sensor, which senses the content of gaseous impurities in the outside air. If necessary, this sensor blocks the flow of air from outside and it is also time-controlled so that the risk of mist formation is minimized.


The IAQS helps to block almost all gases such as nitrogen oxide, ground-level ozone and hydrocarbons. The occupants of the car are protected from virtually every kind of unpleasant roadside odor from gasoline and diesel emissions, washer fluid and oil.


The air system also monitors the carbon monoxide content of the incoming air. What is more, it closes the air vents before the level of carbon monoxide in the cabin air becomes unhealthy, when following trucks or driving in heavy traffic or in tunnels.





Daniel Johnston


Safety, Technology, Special Interests
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