The advance of electric cars constitutes the biggest change in the history of the automobile. For the first time in over a century, cars move without a petrol or diesel engine in the engine bay and have a battery in the floor, changing the car at its core.
With the introduction of the fully electric XC40 SUV, Volvo Cars is not just launching its first fully electric car – in true Volvo tradition, it is also introducing one of the safest cars on the road, despite a fresh set of challenges presented by the absence of an internal combustion engine.
“A Volvo must be safe,” says Malin Ekholm, head of safety at Volvo Cars. “The fully electric XC40 will be one of the safest cars we have ever built.”
While building on the excellent safety standards of the original XC40, Volvo Cars safety engineers had to completely redesign and reinforce the frontal structure to deal with the absence of an engine, meet Volvo Cars’ high safety requirements and keep occupants as safe as in any other Volvo.
“The fundamentals around safety are the same for this car as for any other Volvo. People are inside, so the car needs to be designed to be safe for them,” says Ekholm.
To help keep passengers safe and the battery intact in a collision, Volvo Cars also developed a new safety structure for passengers and battery alike in the XC40. The battery is protected by a safety cage which consists of a frame of extruded aluminium and has been embedded in the middle of the body structure, creating a built-in crumple zone around the battery. The battery’s placement in the floor of the car also lowers the centre of gravity of the car for better protection against roll-overs.
The body structure has been reinforced in the front and rear. The electric powertrain has been integrated in the body structure for better distribution of collision forces away from the cabin. The battery powered XC40 is the first Volvo model equipped with a new, Advanced Driver Assistance System sensor platform, which is a modern, scalable active safety system that consists of an array of radars, cameras and ultrasonic sensors.