The Volvo Safety Center

facilityThe $81 million dollar Volvo Safety Center is the most technologically advanced crash-test facility in the world.

Stockholm, Sweden; October 2000 — “In our new crash safety laboratory, we will have capabilities far superior to those of the competitors. We can quite simply move the reality of the roads into our crash laboratory” said Stefan Nilsson, Director, Volvo Cars Safety Center.

There is no such thing as a typical accident. Real-world accidents do not always happen at a fixed speed or at a perfect 90 degrees. In an industry first, Volvo Cars new Safety Centre takes real-world factors into account, enabling engineers to crash test cars moving at any speed up to 100 kph (62 mph) and at any angle, from full head-on to a 90-degree broadside collision.

Volvo Offset Crash Test

Frontal collisions, offset collisions, cars hitting another vehicle or object in the traffic environment they are all tested using cars of different sizes. This advance in the field of safety is totally unique to Volvo. It is the big picture, the holistic approach, not individual details, that determines the safety with which you travel.

The Volvo Cars Safety Centre officially opened in March 2000 offers test capabilities far superior to those of the competitors. It includes:

  • New equipment for advanced component testing.

  • A supercomputer that crash tests non-existing cars

  • The world’s most advanced crash simulator.

  • A unique crash laboratory with an advanced high-tech crash barrier.

  • Component Testing

    frontimpactWith the help of a number of specially built rigs, studies are being conducted to discover what happens when parts of the human body collide with parts of the interior or exterior of a car. The tests can be performed over and over, with a high degree of precision. Small changes in the design of a steering wheel, for example, can be made in order to determine its direct bearing on safety. The rigs also eliminate the need to arrange full-scale crash tests to settle questions concerning the safety of individual components.

Non-Destructive Crashes

sideimpactIn Volvo Cars’ super-computer, the safety of cars are tested virtually, before they even exist as prototypes. A crash situation can be simulated any number of times, swiftly and inexpensively, at different speeds with different types of safety systems and different body sizes for the occupants. Six simulated full-car crashes can be carried out per 24-hour period.

Unique Crash Simulator

Volvo also has invested in a unique physical crash simulator in which real-life collisions can be simulated without destroying the car body itself. For the first time, a car company can re-create the tipping, or pitch, the car undergoes in a real-life collision. Volvo also can simulate penetration into the passenger compartment by using ten pistons, each representing a part of the car.

Advanced Crash Laboratory

Volvo’s crash laboratory is the most advanced in the world. It has two test tracks, one permanent and one movable, which can be turned by as much as 90 degrees. Advanced laser technology ensures that every test is conducted with millimeter precision. Sensors and high-speed cameras document events. The ability to combine two tracks makes the laboratory at the Volvo Cars Safety Centre unique. In addition, Volvo’s high-tech collision barriers, which weigh 800 metric tons (881 short tons), can be moved into position using air cushions, making it is possible to re-create many different accident situations.

With the help of this new technology, the forces exerted on a car at impact are measured more effectively than ever before. This means that future Volvo cars will be able to provide occupants with an even more effective safety cage.

And, on a lighter note, even the ‘test pilots’ are happy about the system!


Clive the Dummy gives a thumbs up after emerging unharmed from the 2005 Volvo S40 in a crash test demonstration, January 2004, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan