Speaking to CarAdvice at the launch of the new Volvo XC90 in Spain, one of the company’s senior managers of crash safety analysis, Graeme McInally, said Volvo’s crash data record is unrivalled in the industry and gives the Swedish brand an edge over its significantly more resourced German rivals.
“I think Volvo is unique in its data collection perspective and crashes in the field.” McInally said.
“We have a database that has been collecting data from the early 1970s, where we look at Volvo crashes in the field in Sweden and beyond and we look at this to identify where the actual crashes are taking place, so I think the ENCAP (tests) only take you so far and we actually identify real car situations from these databases and this is unique, so this gives us an advantage over Mercedes.”
The company’s courageous and public goal to ensure that no deaths occur in Volvo cars sold after 2020 has been seen by skeptics as unachievable, but the company has faith in its vision.
“It's based on our field database and statistics on our products to date which show that there’s is a trend towards this zero level and we know from lab testing from today’s products like [new] XC90 that it’s so much better than our previous products.”
“So from the field data that we have we see the trend going towards zero and we know that our product today are so much better safety wise and we extrapolate that curve and see the trend going to zero. Of course there are random effects and you can’t see everything.”
Pushed further to guarantee that no occupants will die in a Volvo car sold after 2020, the company’s communication manager, Trevor O'Rourke admitted that “it’s a vision.”
“That’s what we are aiming towards. Not even the Pope is infallible. What we are saying is that our vision is to make that near to next to impossible. The vision is that nobody will be hurt or killed or seriously injured in a brand new Volvo car from 2020.”
“It’s a line in the sand that we have made for ourselves and if anyone can achieve this it’s Volvo. We have a database dating back to the 70s that [has] real life crash data, everything we do is based on real life safety, it’s not about simulations, passing tests and gaining stars, it’s about gaining confidence based on real data, real experience and we are the only one in the business that does that still.”
McInally believes that Volvo is pushing the boundaries of safety requirements and challenging authorities and legal requirements to achieve its fatality goal.
Volvo’s introduction of run-off road protection sees the new XC90 prepare the driver for an accident if the car detects that it has left the road and is headed for a collision. According to the company’s own research, the system reduces the chance of spinal injury by more than 30 percent.
“50 percent of accidents in North American are single vehicles running off the road, no one is looking at it, Volvo is looking at it. We developed these systems to look at.”
Australia’s single car accidents running off the road also account for a similarly high-level on country roads.
Another way in which Volvo hopes to limit accidents is the use of autonomous cars, which the company believes have to boost the integration of active safety and passive safety.
“We do what we need to do to stop people dying in our cars, weather its autonomous or not.” O'Rourke said.
“It’s about taking control when we need to take control and giving as much control as we need to give to the driver for enjoyment.”
Volvo expects to begin trials of fully autonomous cars in Sweden in 2017 with a full introduction scheduled for 2020.
Read our review of the Volvo XC90 here.