Like a dystopian future where the chosen ones ascend from the home-pod only to discover they will be culled to conserve oxygen for the masses, freshly-minted Volvos plucked off the factory floor to get dashed against strong walls so others may live. It all started 20 years ago with the founding of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre, and the action continues today.
It was the most — and still is — one of the most advanced crash lab in the world. The Volvo Cars Safety Centre, opened by the Swedish king in 2000, is a sandbox that allows researches to play out the most horrific, real-life relatable car crashes imaginable. These crashes go beyond standard regulatory requirements because no one drives at the speed limit or hit another vehicle perfectly. Accidents are a messy thing. The number of vehicles crashed over 20 years averages to about one a day; which should come up to about 7,300 Volvos destroyed.
Two test tracks, measuring 108 and 154 metres, are found inside the crash lab. The shorter track is movable and can be angled between zero and 90 degrees to allow for different angles and speeds of the crash. Cars can charge at one another at speeds up to 120kph.
There is also room for roll-over crashes and run-off roads where cars are launched into a ditch at high speed. Remember that article about Volvo dropping their vehicles from a crane to train rescuers? That was conducted at the lab’s outdoor area.
Front, rear and side impacts are tested with an enormous crash barrier in the main hall. The crash barrier weighs 850 tones and can be moved around with air cushions. On top of that, the safety centre has about two dozen fixed and movable barriers to help simulate crashing against large wildlife.
Ultra-high-definition cameras are used to film the crash from every angle. At the same time, sensors on the car, crash test dummies and barriers records the event in a proper sequence. You would have already guessed that the test does help make safer cars or the very least help mitigate injuries that would have otherwise killed everyone involved.
The Safety Centre has been equipped and prepared to crash electric vehicles and use its findings to make EVs safer. After all, having poisonous materials, flammable chemicals and sparking wires will require new thinking to make sure the victims walk away with less injury.
So the next time you enter a Volvo, have a moment of silence to remember all those pristine vehicles that gave their lives in order for you to live.