2013 Volvo V40 introduces breakthrough lifesaving feature
With the new 2013 Volvo V40, the manufacturer has tackled a difficult challenge that automakers face to meet government mandated safety requirements. All automakers are required to provide a certain amount of protection to pedestrians struck by the front of a car. This has led to some rather unsightly hood designs as manufacturers attempt to meet the requirement for some crush space between the top of the hood and the hard engine underneath. Volvo has now introduced a breakthrough new idea on the V40. Instead of a puffed up hood and break-away wipers, the V40 will have an external airbag designed to absorb the impact of a pedestrian. This new technology might not only save many lives, but it could also allow manufacturers to again style the front face and hood of cars in ways that are much more appealing to the eye. This technology will help Volvo differentiate itself from its main competitors, the 2013 Audi A3 Avant and 2013 BMW 3 Series sport wagon.
Pedestrian Deaths Significant
As part of a press release on this new technology Volvo points out that in China 25% off all auto related fatalities are pedestrians. In Europe and the US the percentage is only half of that number, but that still means that about 4,000 pedestrians are killed by being struck by cars in the US each year. Fully three quarters of these are relatively slow speed impacts below about 30 miles per hour. The most serious of the injuries to pedestrians involve head strikes to the top of the hood, the lower part of the windshield, and the leading edges of the A pillars. In order to address this Volvo has taken the unique approach seen in the photos and video here. Rather than continue to devolve the shape of its cars to meet an almost impossible goal of making hard parts soft, Volvo instead turned to its vast experience with airbags to create a novel solution for the 2013 V40 that will allow designers to again style cars the way they would like and still offer the protection required to pedestrians.
Volvo External Airbags
As the picture shows the airbag is not completely on the outside of the V40 wagon. Rather it deploys under the hood to raise it up about four inches which allows the hood to compress enough to absorb the energy of the pedestrian’s body. This will meet the government mandated crush allowance for hoods. The airbag also deploys out from the top of the hood to extend over the bottom of the windshield. Most importantly, the airbag will cover the leading edges and first half of the A pillars, one of the hardest parts of the car’s body structure. The A pillar must be extremely rigid in a car because it not only offers rollover protection, but it is also one of the most important parts of the structure to prevent flex and provide overall rigidity to the vehicle.