Volvo Trucks: Testing for Safety

While the folks who design, engineer, build, and (especially) market Volvo cars are going in the direction of emphasizing that the vehicles are sexy and stylish, the folks who are responsible for Volvo Trucks—which is a separate company—think that the safety message is paramount when it comes to their products.

While the folks who design, engineer, build, and (especially) market Volvo cars are going in the direction of emphasizing that the vehicles are sexy and stylish, the folks who are responsible for Volvo Trucks—which is a separate company—think that the safety message is paramount when it comes to their products.

In fact, it isn’t about talking about safety, it is about putting their products through tests that exceed the requirements of the European Union.

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In 1959, Volvo Trucks, which was a pioneer in the use of steel for building a self-supporting cab, started testing the cabs by whacking them with a 1,000-kg pendulum. In 1960, this test method became the Swedish legal standard. It remained in place until April 2009 when Sweden, being an EU member, switched to the EU requirement.

“What was previously a Swedish requirement is now a unique Volvo requirement. As leaders in the field of safety, we don’t want to compromise on our aim of making the toughest cabs on the market. That’s why we’ve decided to maintain our tougher standards in the future, too,” said Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic and Product Safety Director, Volvo Trucks.

So what they do is:

1. Put 15,000 kg of weight on the roof of the cab

2. Hit the left front supporting pillar with the 1,000-kg pendulum that’s released from the height of three meters

3. Strike the rear wall of the cab with same

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“These three stages correspond to an accident sequence in which the truck drives off the road, rolls over and hits a tree or other hard object. The impact at the rear simulates the truck’s cargo sliding forward and hitting the cab from behind,” said Volvo Trucks’ safety expert Ulf Torgilsman.

He added: “The doors”—which must remain shut after the whacking has commenced—“must be able to be opened no matter how badly the cab is damaged. Being able to evacuate the driver immediately after an accident is crucial.”

Trogilsman recommends that drivers of trucks—and presumably any other motor vehicle, for that matter—wear their seat belts. Volvo, incidentally, invented the three-point belt.