Volvo: The Return to Safety

Back to a core value

By Gary S. Vasilash

Volvo cars were once widely known for two characteristics:

  1. Their boxy design
  2. The fact that they were built with safety foremost

The company essentially “owned” safety in the minds of consumers.

But in the mid- to late-90s the company wanted to be more than something that was the Official Car Builder for Tweed-Jacket-With-Suede-Elbow-Patch-Wearing and Pipe-Smoking East Coast Professors.

Style took over from safety.

The design team members were evidently given French curves to supplement the T-squares.

And while the engineers back in Gothenburg were still figuring out the materials and the structures and the systems that would make the Swedish vehicles safe, their laudable efforts were eclipsed by things like Val Kilmer’s character driving a C70 in The Saint.

But safety is back.

In 2022 Volvo will launch a fully electric SUV, the flagship model for the brand.

(Image: Volvo)

It will come standard with a LiDAR system, from Luminar, and an on-board supercomputer system, from NVIDIA.

“Volvo Cars is and always has been a leader in safety. It will now define the next level of car safety,” said Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo chief executive.

When it comes to autonomous driving, the thing is that there is little in the way of driving and a whole lot in the way of trusting.

As in trusting that the system is going to work because you are, even though behind the wheel, acting as a passenger.

Safety is huge when it comes to autonomy. Which means a need for plenty of sensors, including LiDAR, and the wherewithal to process that information so that the system will have the appropriate responses (e.g., braking, turning, accelerating).

By coming out and saying that this tech is going to be built in to its new vehicle, it seems as though that Volvo is ready to take that safety mantle back.

(Kilmer? He’ll be back this fall as Iceman in Top Gun: Maverick)

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