Ask Volvo owners to describe their cars in one word, and chances are they’ll say “safe.” Volvo’s biggest breakthrough came back in 1959 when engineer Nils Bohlin invented the three-point seat belt. No patent was ever filed, as the invention was deemed too important for the future of automotive safety to monopolize.

Since then, Volvo has become famous for its crash testing, as the automaker meticulously notes what happens to cars during tests and makes subsequent changes to its fleet. In fact, the U.S. government used Volvos in 1976 to conduct its own crash tests and develop uniform safety standards for cars in America based on the results.


Volvo still leads the way when it comes to delivering safety through technology: In cooperation with the Swedish Transport Administration and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, the automaker is working on a project enabling cars to share information about conditions related to road friction, such as slippery ice patches. That’s potentially life-saving information in the frozen north and elsewhere.

“The more information that can be shared on the road, the fewer surprises there are. And when you’re driving, surprises are what you most want to avoid,” says Erik Israelsson, Project Leader Cooperative ITS (Intelligent Transport System) at Volvo Cars. “In light of that, we’ve developed a slippery-road alert, which notifies drivers about icy patches and contributes to making winter road maintenance more efficient.”

Updates on road conditions will be shared through a cloud-based network – a revolutionary approach to improving traffic safety. And with a test fleet now counting 1,000 cars, the project is moving rapidly towards making the technology available to customers within a few years’ time.

“We’re also adding a hazard-light alert, which will tell drivers if another vehicle in the area has its hazard lights on,” Israelsson says. “With these first two features, we have a great platform for developing additional safety features. This is just the beginning.”

The slippery-road alert also sends information about icy patches to road administrators as a complement to existing measurement stations along the road. The hazard light and slippery-road alerts are the first safety features in the Volvo cloud. The development of sophisticated communication via the mobile network is part of the company’s aim to offer customers a fully connected experience—an experience that, just like the three-point safety belt, will surely be part and parcel of every new car in but a few years.

“In the future we will have increased the exchange of vital information between vehicles, as well as between vehicles and infrastructure … offering safer traffic, a more comfortable drive and improved traffic flow,” Israelsson says.
“This will bring us closer to our safety vision that by 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car. And it’s another way in which the ‘Designed around you’ philosophy improves the driving experience.”

The first Volvo cars showed up on the roads of America 60 years ago – and in just a few more years, they will be born here as well. On March 30, 2015, Volvo made an historic announcement: The company plans to build its first assembly plant in the U.S. The site of the $500 million plant won’t be announced for a few months, but it is known that the first car is scheduled to roll out of the new plant in mid-2018. Made by Sweden, in the US: A Star Spangled Volvo - Volvo begins construction of first U.S. plant.