Volvo Car has revealed first details of the platform which will underpin its next-generation mid-sized and large cars and allow the integration of its latest safety technology.
Scaleable Product Architecture (SPA) will appear for the first time on the next XC90 SUV at the end of 2014, but will be used also for the replacement 60 and 70 series models.
It allows petrol, diesel, hybrid and all-electric powertrains to be mounted identically in a fixed location, leaving engineers with flexibility in the shape and size of the rest of the car.
Along with a small-car platform being developed with the owner, Geely of China, it will form the basis of a complete range of new Volvos.
SPA also makes it possible for Volvo to introduce its latest safety ideas. Four new safety technologies will be available on the next XC90 as part of Volvo's aim to ensure that no-one can be killed or seriously injured in one of its cars after 2020.
The XC90 will be able to detect and avoid pedestrians at night, slow down when large animals step into its path, prevent the driver from drifting off the road or hitting a barrier and adapt its speed - and the steering - to maintain its position in dense traffic. Car-to-car communication will be added by 2016.
The new systems advance those that Volvo has been introducing to avoid low-speed collisions or contact with pedestrians and cyclists since 2006. They have been made possible by a new highly sensitive camera with advanced exposure control, and new radar support.
As a result of these, the night-time pedestrian detection system adds autonomous braking from dusk to dawn, something which was not previously possible, minimising and possibly eradicating the risk of hitting a pedestrian who steps out from the shadows.
The animal detection system is seen as a major breakthrough for northern countries such as Sweden, Russia and Canada, where collisions with moose and elk at country-road speeds are quite common and often fatal.
It cannot prevent accidents because of the unpredictablity of animal behaviour, but reduces the Volvo's speed to a level where the occupants have a good chance of avoiding injury.
Around a third of fatalities are the result of cars simply leaving the road through tiredness or lack of concentration by the driver. Volvo's road edge and barrier detection system spots when this is about to happen and, like the active lane departure and blind spot warning systems already available, brakes the car on one side to bring it back on course.
When car-to-car communication becomes available in 2016, it will advise the driver of the best speed to maintain to avoid red traffic lights, issue alerts when emergency vehicles are approaching and use information from cars ahead to warn of impending dangerous road conditions. ∎
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