We all know Volvo as the “safety” brand – from the invention of the three-point seatbelt, to more recently imposing a 180 km/h speed limit on all of their cars. But did you know that back home at the Volvo Cars Safety Centre in Gothenburg, the company is crash testing on average one car every day?
The Volvo Cars Safety Centre is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, which means, by our conservative calculations, Volvo has crashed more than 7,000 vehicles at the centre itself. It was one of the most advanced crash labs in the world when it launched in 2000, and still is today, according to Volvo.
The safety centre is a multi-functional facility that allows their safety engineers to recreate countless traffic situations and accidents, and perform tests that go beyond regulatory requirements, Volvo says. It is home to two test tracks, measuring 108 m and 154 m long respectively.
The shorter 108-metre test track is moveable and can be positioned at an angle between 0 and 90 degrees, allowing for crash test at different angles and speeds, or to simulate a crash between two moving cars. Cars tested on this test track can be crashed at speeds of up to 120 km/h.
Outside the test centre is where Volvo performs tests such as roll-over crashes and run-off road scenarios, where cars are “launched into a ditch at high speeds”. This is also where Volvo recently dropped cars repeatedly from a height of 30 metres in order to let first responders hone their life-saving skills in extracting passengers out of cars in extreme crash scenarios.
Volvo uses a variety of barriers in order to simulate all sorts of scenarios. These include a massive 850-tonne barrier used for testing various frontal, rear, and side impacts, as well as about two dozen fixed and movable barriers such as a moose-like structure to simulate crashes involving these animals.
During the crash tests, these barriers, along with all of the test dummies on board, are fitted with sensors to allow the Volvo engineers to record and log the entire chain of events in detail. “Dozens” of ultra-high definition cameras also film the crash test from “every angle imaginable”, making sure the engineers catch every single detail during the crash.
Despite all of these advanced crash test equipment, Volvo says that all of these cars have already gone through thousands of computer simulated crash tests, including the ones we’ve seen with the “Ultimate Driving Simulator”.
“Being committed to safety is not about passing a test or getting a safety rating. Our commitment to safety is about finding out how and why accidents and injuries occur and then developing the technology to help prevent them,” said Volvo Cars senior safety advisor Thomas Broberg.
“No matter what the scenario, we can recreate it here at the Volvo Cars Safety Centre and analyse it in detail. 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.”