Volvo 760 turns 30 - The car that saved Volvo Car Corporation
In February 1982 - 30 years ago - the new Volvo 760 GLE was launched. No typical Volvo, yet unmistakably a Volvo. Seen as elegant and exciting with its characteristic design it was well received. The 760 became the car that actually saved Volvo Car Corporation back then and paved the way to the modern company of today.
When the first plans for the new car were drawn up around 1975 the automotive industry in general was experiencing a lot of difficulties, and Volvo in particular. The first oil crisis had just passed and at Volvo, problems were rising regarding the build quality of the new Volvo 240. It was also a very difficult economic time for the company. It was expensive to build cars in the Torslanda plant, too expensive in fact, and it was no longer profitable to export them.
The 200-series was soon to be complemented with a new generation of smaller cars from the Dutch subsidiary Volvo Car BV, but at the same time a new large volume-seller for the 1980s was desperately needed. A car designed and built to meet the continuously higher demands for fuel efficiency, exhaust emission control and safety that kept appearing. It was just as difficult to foresee what kind of car the customers of the 1980s would want.
A new way to tackle the task
The 760 was conceived in a time when conditions changed almost daily and in the company there were many strong and different opinions regarding the new car. There was no Internet to surf in order to broaden the views but Volvo made use of the best possible tool available at the time, a very thorough analysis of the surrounding world. Careful studies and large mental flexibility would lead the team on to the right track and along that track there was very little or no room for mistakes.
More car at less weight
It was decided that reliability, fuel efficiency, longevity, serviceability, low noise levels, design and performance in that order should guide the development work on the new project. It was also decided that rear-wheel drive should be employed, that the wheelbase should be 10 cm (4") longer than that of the 240. The car was also to be somewhat shorter than the 240 but have the same width and be 100 kg lighter. For cost reasons most of the technical content was to be carried over from the 200-series with only minor modifications. This was, for instance the case with transmissions, suspensions and many other system solutions. The exterior design, however, had to be brand new.
The project, which was now known as the P31, was subject to changes. The technical specifications were only finalized at about the same time as the final design was frozen. Choosing the right design is just as difficult and important as filling the car with the right technical content.
The introduction was initially planned for 1980 but was at this stage postponed until 1981.
Boxiness becomes a concept
There were many design proposals to consider, many of them from outside designers. Most of them were sedans but Volvo's head of design, Jan Wilsgaard, was more into a hatchback. The finance department, on the other hand, wanted a design with straight and flat surfaces, with angular lines, preferably 90 degrees, in order to reduce the production costs as much as possible,
In the end, the battle stood between the favourite of the marketing department and the engineering department alternative, when the sometimes very secretive Wilsgaard pulled an unknown contestant out of his sleeve. It was his own proposal which blended the properties in a different way: A car with a drawn out rear end in the estate fashion with straight body sides and with an abruptly cut-off rear, in other words a cut-back. This cut-back remained in the final discussions but eventually a modified version of it - a sedan with an almost vertical rear screen and boxy rear section - was chosen. The straight sides lent the interior a spacious feeling which was also very comfortable. And above all, the car had real character.
It soon proved to be the right choice. In the midst of the round and slippery soap dishes offered by other manufacturers, the Volvo boxiness was a hit and soon turned into a hallmark. Very valuable during this selective process was the use of so-called product clinics which Volvo used for the first time and at which people's reactions regarding the new car were investigated without revealing any details like the brand of car etc. The reactions were not entirely positive, but in the USA, the planned main market for the new car, people loved it and looked upon it as their type of car.
Guiding large parts of the development work and affecting the project, besides the design, was new legislation and the engine programme. There were still drawing boards in the engineering department but computers were used in an increasingly larger scale with advanced calculation models, especially in the safety development work. By now, the project entered its final phase and at the beginning of 1978 it was humorously re-named 1155, i.e. five to twelve. It was time to hurry up.
VCC - an appetizer
A lot of things happened before the 70s turned into the 80s. In the spring of 1978, the first driveable prototype was ready and many more test vehicles were quickly finished. The time-consuming and thorough field test work started and the cars covered a total of 3.200.000 km on three continents, in the hottest and coldest climates available, in order to sort every thinkable detail.
In 1979, the AB Volvo car division was turned into its own company - Volvo Car Corporation - with Håkan Frisinger as its first CEO and in 1980 an interesting concept car was shown which hinted more than just a little bit about what was coming a year later. The Volvo Concept Car was an updated version of Wilsgaard's cut-back which was the real design inspiration of the 760. Although shorter at the back than the 760 was to be, it was almost identical.
The VCC is today on display in the Volvo Museum. The name, in its shortened version, also stood for the initials of the company, Volvo Car Corporation. In terms of technical content, the VCC featured the constant-track rear suspension of the forthcoming 760 and a powerful turbodiesel which showed the enormous future potential of the compression engine principle.
Driving pleasure and common sense
The plans for the 760 launch at the 1981 Frankfurt Motor Show had to be pushed forward again and when Volvo finally presented the car, in February 1982, an elegant car with a completely new and unconventional design was shown; pleasant to drive, comfortable and offered with three different choices of engine: a four-cylinder turbo, the V6 now bored out to 2.8 litres and the Volkswagen-built but Volvo specified in line-six D24 turbodiesel. When fitted with this engine, the 760 was the quickest diesel car off the mark in the world at the time.
In Sweden, the new 760 GLE was priced just below the psychological SEK 100,000 limit - at SEK 99,800 - and for that money the customer got a car that was very well equipped: a V6 engine with automatic transmission, air conditioning, a sunroof and power steering. No wonder the sales took off instantly, both on the home market and abroad. In true Volvo manner, sales started from the top down, with the 760 GLE followed later by the 740 series, in four and five door versions.
The Volvo 760 became a turning point for Volvo Car Corporation, product wise and financially, and formed the basis for the continuation of the company. Without the 760 no 850, without the 850 no S80 and so on. But it was an investment of gigantic proportions, SEK 3.5 billion. The whole idea behind it was that the 760 and all future derivatives were to keep up the sales during the rest of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, which they did. It wasn't until 1998 that production ended with the V90, the last Volvo car with its roots in 760 technologies.
In total 221,309 units of the 760 were made (1,230,704 including the 740) before it was replaced in the autumn of 1990 by the more modern 960. By then, the 760 had been a profit-maker and prestige-builder par excellence for Volvo Car Corporation for almost a decade.
Volvo Car Corporation part of successful road train test - SARTRE project enters final phase
The SARTRE project (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) - with Volvo Car Corporation as the only participating car manufacturer - has successfully completed the first test demonstrations of a multiple vehicle platoon.
The test fleet included a lead truck followed by three cars driven entirely autonomously at speeds of up to 90 km/h - with no more than 6 metres gap between the vehicles.
"The aim is for the entire road train to be completed in autumn 2012. By then we will have four vehicles after one lead vehicle driving at 90 km/h," says Erik Coelingh, technical project manager at the Volvo Car Corporation.
The SARTRE project is being driven by seven European partners and is the only one of its kind to focus on the development of technology that can be implemented on conventional highways in which platooned traffic operates in a mixed environment with other road users.
Recognizing that the challenge of implementing road train technology on Europe's highways is not solely a technical matter, SARTRE also includes a major study to identify what infrastructure changes will be needed for vehicle platooning to become a reality. A number of stakeholder discussions will therefore be held. The participants in the first discussion included technical experts, politicians, legislators and traffic safety researchers. At the workshop a number of non-technical challenges for road trains were discussed, such as legal regulations, product liability and driver acceptance of automated vehicles.
Key future requirements identified were the need to agree a common terminology for platooning, such as criteria for defining when a vehicle becomes fully, as opposed to partially or even highly automated, and the need to address multiple and varied national regulatory law or to harmonize regulatory law.
The main advantage of road trains is that the car driver has time over to do other things. Road trains promote safer transport since the vehicle platoons are led by a professional driver in e.g. a truck and inter-vehicle reaction response times are much quicker. Environmental impact is reduced since the cars follow close behind each other and benefit from the lower air drag. The energy saving is expected to be in the region of up to 20 percent. Road capacity will also be able to be utilised more efficiently.
About the SARTRE project:
The SARTRE project stands for Safe Road Trains for the Environment. Part-funded by the European Commission under the Framework 7 programme, SARTRE is led by Ricardo UK Ltd and comprises collaboration between the following additional participating companies: Idiada and Robotiker-Tecnalia of Spain, Institut für Kraftfahrwesen Aachen (IKA) of Germany, and SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, Volvo Car Corporation and Volvo Technology of Sweden.
SARTRE aims to encourage a step change in personal transport usage through the development of safe environmental road trains (platoons). Systems are being developed in prototype form that will facilitate the safe adoption of road trains on un-modified public highways with full interaction with non-platoon vehicles.
The project is addressing the three cornerstone transportation issues of environment, safety and congestion while at the same time encouraging driver acceptance through the prospect of increased "driver comfort". The objectives of SARTRE may be summarised as:
- To define a set of acceptable platooning strategies that will allow road trains to operate on public highways without changes to the road and roadside infrastructure.
- To enhance, develop and integrate technologies for a prototype platooning system such that the defined strategies can be assessed under real world scenarios.
- To demonstrate how the use of platoons can lead to environmental, safety and congestion improvements.
- To illustrate how a new business model can be used to encourage the use of platoons with benefits to both lead vehicle operators and to platoon subscribers.
If successful, the benefits from SARTRE are expected to be significant. The estimated fuel consumption saving for high speed highway operation of road trains is in the region of 20 percent depending on vehicle spacing and geometry. Safety benefits will arise from the reduction of accidents caused by driver action and driver fatigue. The utilization of existing road capacity will also be increased with a potential consequential reduction in journey times. For users of the technology, the practical attractions of a smoother, more predicable and lower cost journey which offers the opportunity of additional free time will be considerable. The SARTRE project formally started in September 2009 and will run for a total of three years. http://www.sartre-project.eu/
About the SARTRE project partners:
SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden is part of the SP Group, consisting of the parent company and its subsidiaries CBI, Glafo, SIK, SMP, YKI and JTI. It constitutes a substantial group of institutes for research, innovation and sustainable development of industry and society. The Group covers a wide technical range, with laboratory resources that are fully up to national and international standards. A staff of about 1 000, of whom half are university trained and about 250 have research scientist training, constitute an important knowledge resource. Since November 2009, the SP Group has been wholly owned by the state holding company, RISE Holding AB.
Ricardo plc is a leading independent technology provider and strategic consultant to the world's transportation sector and clean energy industries. The company's engineering expertise ranges from vehicle systems integration, controls, electronics and software development, to the latest driveline and transmission systems and gasoline, diesel, hybrid and fuel cell power train technologies, as well as wind energy and tidal power systems. A public company listed on the London Stock Exchange, Ricardo plc posted sales of £162.8 million in financial year 2010. Ricardo is participating in the SARTRE project through its UK business, Ricardo UK Ltd.
For more information, visit http://www.ricardo.com/.
Tecnalia Research & Innovation is an all-round supplier of contracted R+D+I, which has a complete range of services and products ranging from foresight and technology surveillance to new technology based business launching. Of this wide range of methods for collaborating with companies, development of R&D projects and technology consultancy services stand out. Tecnalia operates in its reference markets through five divisions: INDUSTRY AND TRANSPORT, INNOVATION AND SOCIETY, ICT-EUROPEAN SOFTWARE INSTITUTE, HEALTH, AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, and 16 business units. This helps the technology centre to specialise by orienting research towards the needs of companies in these key sectors. Its mainly objective is to actively contribute to sustainable development in Society through Research and Technological Transfer. Over the years Tecnalia has taken part in more than 85 European projects, 24 of which remain ongoing. www.tecnalia.com
Volvo Technology Corporation
is a Business Unit of the Volvo Group, which is one of the world's leading manufacturers of commercial transport solutions providing products such as trucks, buses, construction equipment, drive systems for marine and industrial applications as well as aircraft engine components. Founded in 1927, Volvo today has about 100,000 employees, production in 19 countries and operates on more than 180 markets. Volvo Technology Corporation is an innovation company that on contract basis invents, researches, develops and integrates new product and business concepts and technology for hard as well as soft products within the transport and vehicle industry. Volvo Technology's primary customers are the Volvo Group Business Areas & Units. In addition, Volvo Technology participates in national and international projects in certain strategic areas, organised in common research programmes. For more information see
is a Business Unit of the Volvo Group, which is one of the world's leading manufacturers of commercial transport solutions providing products such as trucks, buses, construction equipment, drive systems for marine and industrial applications as well as aircraft engine components. Founded in 1927, Volvo today has about 100,000 employees, production in 19 countries and operates on more than 180 markets. Volvo Technology Corporation is an innovation company that on contract basis invents researches, develops and integrates new product and business concepts and technology for hard as well as soft products within the transport and vehicle industry. Volvo Technology's primary customers are the Volvo Group Business Areas & Units. In addition, Volvo Technology participates in national and international projects in certain strategic areas, organised in common research programmes. For more information see http://www.tech.volvo.com/.
Applus+ IDIADA, as a global partner to the automotive industry, provides complete solutions for automotive development projects worldwide. Applus+ IDIADA's Technical Centre is located 70 km south of Barcelona (Spain), having subsidiaries and branch offices in 19 European, Asian and American countries with a total work force of around 1300 employees. The core services Applus+ IDIADA provides are: Engineering, Proving Ground and Homologation. Main fields of engineering activity are power train, emissions, noise & vibration, vehicle dynamics, braking systems, fatigue & durability and passive safety. Applus+ IDIADA's proving ground is recognised as one of the best facilities in the world, and is renowned for the quality of its costumer service. As a multi-user facility, safety and confidentiality are of the highest priority. Weather conditions make this facility the first choice regardless of the type of testing.
The Institut für Kraftfahrzeuge of the RWTH Aachen University (ika) with its centennial history is engaged in education and in industry-orientated research on vehicles - e.g. cars, commercial vehicles, busses and motorcycles - as well as neighbouring issues such as traffic and environmental conditions (noise, exhaust gas, etc.). ika is headed by Univ.-Prof. Dr.- Ing. Lutz Eckstein. In 2009 ika had more than 200 employees. IKA increasingly links research projects with development tasks that have to be financed by third-party funding. ika´s activities are tailored to industrial demands and comprise the departments: Chassis - Body - Drive train - Acoustics - Electronics - Driver Assistance - Strategy and Process Development. The Driver Assistance department focuses on the development and assessment of driver assistance systems. Since the first introduction of advanced driver assistant systems (ADAS) ika has been one of the leading test facilities for independent tests and certifications of the system's components and overall applications. For more information please see www.ika.rwth-aachen.de.
Volvo Car Corporation is one of the car industry's strongest brands, with a long and proud history of world-leading innovations. Volvo sells approximately 450.000 cars per year in about 120 countries and comprising some 2,000 sales outlets and service workshops around the world. Volvo Car Corporation's headquarter and other corporate functions are based in Gothenburg, Sweden. For more information, please check http://www.volvocars.com/ and www.youtube.com/volvocarsnews
Enter the Volvo Arctic Excursion contest with Volvo Cars of Canada
Winners will take part in the ultimate hiking adventure through the Swedish Lapland
TORONTO, ON (January 23, 2012) - Volvo Cars of Canada will be sending two lucky people to Sweden on the journey of a lifetime to take part in the Fjallraven Classic this August. This unique five day trek, 20 miles north of the Arctic Circle, features some of the most breathtaking views on the globe. Surrounded by majestic mountains and crystal clear streams, the hiking adventure follows a 110km route through magnificent and rustic scenery comprised of green valleys and grassy moors.
"Fjallraven Classic was my way of getting Swedes out in the Swedish mountains," says Ake Norden, the founder of Fjallraven, "Now there are Scandinavians, Germans, Americans and people from as far as China."
Food and fuel are distributed at the six checkpoints and medical staff are available for support should participants require it. The grand prize includes flights, entrance fees, Fjallraven gear and a tent. For those who wish to rise to the challenge, visit the Volvo Cars of Canada Facebook fan page or visit the Volvo display at the Canadian International Autoshow next month in Toronto, or at the Vancouver International Autoshow in March.
Click the link below to witness the spectacular landscapes and learn more about the Fjallraven Classic: www.fjallraven.com/outdoor-life/fjallraven-classic/
Volvo Cars of Canada Corp. is part of the Volvo Car Corporation of Gothenburg, Sweden. The company provides marketing, sales, parts, service, technology and training support to the 41 Volvo automobile retailers across the country. Volvo lead the list of luxury car brands in the 2012 Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), with winners including the Volvo C30, S60, S80, XC60 and XC90.