Volvo Named Tech Brand Of The Year
- Volvo honored for its innovative in-car technology and pioneering tech partnerships
- XC90 wins 'most user-friendly tech' and 'best audio system' awards
- Intuitive Sensus touchscreen system and ground-breaking Drive-E powertrains also praised
Volvo has been voted Tech Brand of the Year at the inaugural Car Tech Awards.
The new awards recognize the best in automotive technology, as voted for by the experts at Carbuyer, the car review and advice service, and technology website Alphr.com. Volvo was recognized for its ground-breaking technology, such as the pioneering Sensus touchscreen control system in its new large premium models, the S90, V90 and XC90. Its all-new Drive-E powertrains, designed to offer efficient power using a mixture of advanced injection technology and electrification, impressed the judges, too.
The company was also praised for its forward-thinking approach to technology partnerships, such as the collaboration with Uber, which will result in Volvo's sophisticated SPA platform underpinning Uber's next generation of autonomous-drive vehicles.
Stuart Milne, editor of Carbuyer, said: "For years, Volvo has been synonymous with safety, but it is now becoming a tech brand in its own right. It'll use autonomous technology to ensure no one is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020 – a remarkable goal. It has used technology to downsize its engines with no impact on performance, and has delivered a market-leading infotainment system in Sensus. Yet it's still finding time to partner with Uber and bringing itself to the heart of Silicon Valley as a result. It's the blend of thinking about the technology of today as well as the tech of tomorrow that makes Volvo our Tech Brand of the Year.
The XC90 SUV won two further Car Tech Awards. It was awarded 'Most user-friendly tech – over £25,000', while its phenomenal Bowers & Wilkins sound system was voted 'Best audio system – over £25,000'.
Everything Volvo does is 'designed around you', which means that every piece of technology is as intuitive and user-friendly as possible. So not only are most of the XC90's functions controlled via its advanced Sensus touchscreen or the intelligent voice-control system (both of which are fitted as standard), you won't be baffled by whichever you choose to use.
The Bowers & Wilkins audio system sets new standards for the automotive industry. It combines the expertise of premium British hi-fi equipment company Bowers & Wilkins with cutting-edge sound processing software from Swedish audio company Dirac Research. The 18-speaker system produces a huge 1,400W, and can be tailored, at the touch of a button, to mirror the precise acoustics of the Gothenburg Concert Hall, a recording studio or a live stage environment.
Jon Bray, Reviews Editor at Alphr.com, said: "We were hugely impressed by the XC90's Bowers & Wilkins audio system that, while a significant investment for the buyer, betters systems costing far more. We also found Sensus to be a very effective tool to operate the car's many and varied functions."
Commenting on the awards, Jon Wakefield, Managing Director of Volvo Car UK, said: "These award wins recognize the fact that Volvo is a technological leader – not just in the field of safety, but in terms of connectivity and in-car entertainment, autonomous drive and efficient powertrains. They also show that no matter how sophisticated Volvos get, the way in which we interact with the technology needn't be complex."
Volvo C70 turns 20 – a niche car made by passion
The C70 represented a new niche in an important period for Volvo, a project that was driven by enthusiasm and a love of cars by a small and passionate team. Twenty years ago, it was first shown to the world.
When the Volvo C70 was first unveiled during the Paris Motor Show on 30 September 1996, it was not only the slender body that was brand new. It was Volvo’s first “proper” coupé since the 1800 model, and the first time Volvo had cooperated with engineering firm TWR on a new car. Furthermore, it was to be built partly using new methods at a newly opened plant in the Swedish town of Uddevalla.
At the beginning of the 1990s, Volvo decided to expand its passenger car programme with a coupé and a cabriolet. The two versions would be developed in parallel and built on the technological base of the 850 model.
A small project group was formed in early 1994 and Håkan Abrahamsson was appointed project manager. Volvo had limited experience in developing such a characteristically niche product, and they were in quite a rush. They therefore chose to cooperate with the British engineering firm TWR, Tom Walkinshaw Racing, who were already involved with Volvo’s racing team in the BTCC.
"Without a doubt this was the most fun car project I’ve been involved with," Håkan Abrahamsson says today. Volvo wanted a project manager who was a little younger - preferably one who would be under 40 be the time the car was unveiled.
The team had just a couple of months during 1994 to define the project, and they got to work almost straight away with a comprehensive competitor analysis. The project group had to cancel their holidays and instead headed to the south to France to rent and try out coupés and cabriolets from their key competitors.
Since they were supposed to be on holiday, they were allowed to bring their families, which turned out to be an unexpected success. Several comments were noted that would not have emerged if it had only been car designers who had analysed the competition. This was hugely beneficial during the continued design work and the team often returned to their experiences with their families.
A large part of the design and development work took place at TWR near Oxford in England. Volvo was responsible for the basic technical structure, and determined which characteristics the car was to have. TWR was responsible for design and production adjustment. A complete development team worked in a huge barn where Tom Walkinshaw, TWR’s charismatic owner, also kept his car collection.
The project group were given an unusually free hand in terms of shaping the car, and head of design Peter Horbury wanted to change the idea that Volvo design was angular and boxy. When TWR’s Ian Callum showed sketches of a coupé that featured a significantly arched roofline and sculpted sides following proposals that had been considered “too Volvo”, the matter was decided. The design would go on to remain almost unchanged right up to production.
The new car had the same wheelbase as the Volvo 850 and was the same length, but it still gave the impression that it was rather more dapper. As it was already known from the beginning that the car would also be produced as a cabriolet, the development team ensured that the design worked both with and without a roof.
The development period for the C70 was brief - it took just 30 months from the first studies until the first cars were produced. The collaboration with TWR was crucial in achieving this, and the project costs were more manageable.
Volvo's then head of design, Peter Horbury, was clearly enthusiastic about the new language of design represented by the C70: "We threw away the box but kept the toy inside," he said after the first press viewing, where he had driven a saffron yellow C70 onto the stage.
The front clearly linked to Volvo, while the rest of the body was significantly curvier than anything previously released by the company - at least the first in a long time. The C70 heralded a new design direction that would characterise many future models.
Freedom of choice for the customer was important in a car like the C70, and there were 17 different paint colours to choose between. Solid, metallic and pearl. With 40 different interior combinations with differences in material and colours, the choices were almost endless.
It was crucial that the speed matched the appearance. The C70 was therefore launched exclusively with five cylinder turbo engines. The strongest engine, at 2.3 litres and 240 hp, was shared with the Volvo 850R. A calmer version, at 2.5 litres and 193 hp, was also released at the same time, and there were also 2 litre versions offering 180 and 225 hp respectively for markets where cylinder volume determines taxation levels.
Despite the C70 being very much an emotional car, where the design governed its function, there was plenty of room for four people and their luggage. And since Volvo developed it, the safety levels were high, featuring a side impact protection system (SIPS), whiplash protection (WHIPS) and belt tensioners and side airbags.
Together with TWR, Volvo formed a joint venture company, Autonova, in Uddevalla. Volvo had previously operated in Uddevalla, but production had ceased some years earlier. Now the factory was rebuilt and refurbished to incorporate the niche car. Production moved on from the assembly line principle, and instead a work team followed each car through several stages of production until the next team took over. The capacity of the new factory was 20,000 cars per year.
The news that the Volvo C70 Coupé would be joined by a cabriolet was announced at the same time as the coupé was launched. The C70 Cabriolet was unveiled one year later and it was the first convertible Volvo of the modern era. For many years, Volvo had been sceptical about cabriolets for crash safety reasons, but the C70 Cabriolet saw the introduction of features such as ROPS - Roll Over Protection System - with two protective frames behind the rear seat that were activated if the car rolled over. The windscreen frame was anchored to the base plate and manufactured from high-strength steel.
The design stood the test of time and did not change significantly during the nine years of life enjoyed by the first generation. The Volvo C70 Coupé was manufactured until 2002, while the cabriolet lived on for a further three years until April 2005. By this time, 76,809 C70s had been built, of which 27,014 were coupés and 49,795 cabriolets.
The second generation C70 convertible, featuring a three piece retractable hardtop and built by Pininfarina, was launched at Paris Motor Show in September 2005.
10 things you may not know about the Volvo C70.
- The C70 had one of the world´s best sound systems at the time. Loudspeakers from the Danish prestige brand Dynaudio, Dolby Surround and an amplifier with up to 4x100 watts.
- The 17 different exterior colours were developed under the supervision of designer José Diaz de la Vega. He also led the design work for the interior, while Anders Gunnarsson played the same role for the exterior.
- In Sweden, there is a special club for C 70 owners - the Swedish Volvo C70 club. They are organising a parade from the factory in Uddevalla to the Volvo Museum in Gothenburg in conjunction with the 20th anniversary.
- The première in Paris could also be followed online - it was the first time this had ever happened in Europe.
- In 1998, the C70 was ranked as the best Volvo in J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction survey and it came in fifth overall.
- Finnish firm Valmet produced a proposal for a C70 cabriolet with a tin roof. This did not lead to production, but the C70’s successor was given a roof of this type in 2005.
- Tom Walkinshaw, the man behind TWR, was an experienced racing driver with three touring car world titles and two victories at the Daytona and Le Mans 24-hour races, respectively.
- In 1999, Volvo acquired TWR from Autonova and continued production in-house. Later on, Volvo formed a company with Italian Pininfarina.
- In the film production of The Saint (1996), Simon Templar, played by Val Kilmer, drove a Garnet Red Volvo C70. The film was shot before the C70 had been unveiled, which meant a great deal of secrecy was called for.
- The preliminary prospectus for the C70 was sparse. It consisted of elegant pictures, a few technical facts and a three line quotation from Peter Horbury: "I’ve tried to create a car that people will want, not a car people need."
Volvo Cars reveals its adventurous side with new V90 Cross Country
Volvo Cars, the premium car maker, has unveiled the eagerly awaited V90 Cross Country, completing its 90 Series line-up.
Since the introduction of the first Cross Country almost 20 years ago, Volvo Cars has become synonymous with the rugged all-road, all-weather product category, with a growing stable of Cross Country models.
Volvo Cars’ Cross Country models fulfil an increasingly important part of the Swedish automaker’s product portfolio as luxury car buyers seek out a more experienced-based lifestyle that occasionally takes them off the beaten track.
“The V90 Cross Country takes the elegance of the V90 and transforms it into an all-road car that delivers safety, comfort and performance in a capable and adventurous package,” said Håkan Samuelsson, President & CEO, Volvo Car Group.
With some of the harshest winters on the planet and over 77 percent of the country covered in forest and lakes, Sweden is the natural place to develop and test extreme durability and all-weather capable cars. This hard-won expertise represents a large part of Volvo Cars’ heritage, reflected in the company’s Cross Country model line-up.
“Our cars are well known for their safety, strength and durability. With All-Wheel Drive, increased ride height, and a chassis optimized for comfort and control in all weather and road conditions, the new V90 Cross Country takes our versatile V90 estate and adds the heart of an explorer,” said Dr. Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research & Development at Volvo Cars.
With Volvo Cars’ Scalable Product Architecture providing the underpinnings, the V90 Cross Country has undergone rigorous testing to ensure that it can survive the extremes in which it will ultimately find itself.
From secret testing facilities in the frozen north of Sweden, where temperatures regularly hit -40 degrees to the searing desert heat of Arizona, where Volvo Cars performs its high temperature testing program, the V90 Cross Country has been built to last.
With a design that clearly stands out from the crowd, the V90 Cross Country’s rugged character belies a sumptuous interior that delivers a level of luxury uncommon in the segment, combining all the benefits of the connectivity and entertainment features that were launched with the new S90 and V90, including a high-end sound system by Bowers & Wilkins.
The V90 Cross Country’s exterior design cues communicate the powerful and dynamic capability that the car exemplifies, while offering the flexibility to choose from both rugged and elegant expressions.
“Designing a Volvo Cross Country is not a styling exercise, a plastic job. It is based on honest capability. The Volvo V90 Cross Country brings a surprising and intriguing combination of a strong, powerful exterior and a luxurious, Scandinavian interior. It will continue the genuine tradition of the Volvo Cross Country with a new recipe: The blend of powerful off-road capability in a most elegant, sophisticated, tailored wagon suit,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President Design at Volvo Cars.
The new V90 Cross Country takes this well-established segment to a new level of comfort-inspired capability. Production of the car is set to start this autumn at Volvo Cars Torslanda Plant in Sweden.