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Interview: Volvo aims for 0 deaths or serious injuries in their cars by 2020

As we near Volvo's lofty goal of aiming for zero deaths or serious injuries in their vehicles by 2020, AMEinfo explores how the Swedish automaker is making this a reality.

Volvo has identified speeding, impairment, and distraction as the primary factors in vehicle-related deaths and major injuries As such, it has introduced multiple measures to uphold their reputation for unrivaled safety Volvo's future EV-ready lineup will utilize all these technologies and measures

With the Middle East’s first ever e-MotorShow wrapping up today in Beirut, AMEinfo got in touch with one of the participating car brands at the event: Volvo.

Volvo is very big on EVs (electric vehicles) at the moment, stating in 2018 that the company is aiming for fully electric cars to make up 50% of its sales by 2025.

AMEinfo sat down with Léa Assaf, Marketing Manager, and Gergi El Murr, COO at GAA & CO S.A.L. (Volvo’s dealer in Lebanon) to discuss the Middle East’s readiness for EVs, and how electric cars will come to be mainstream.

In this second part of the interview, we explore how Volvo will prevent any deaths or serious injuries in their cars by 2020. In part 1, we discussed everything EVs, from MENA readiness, to pricing, to Volvo’s sales of electric vehicles.

What do you think needs to change for mass consumers to be more willing to purchase EVs from their favourite brands?

El Murr: With every product, you have a portion of the population that is willing to try and accept new products – what we call trendsetters. Studies have found that 10-20% of the population will be willing to try new technology and new products. The 80% or so will follow once they see successful results from the use of this new product.

Assaf: But still, we have to consider the financial capabilities of these customers.

Obviously, ourselves as a premium importer and a premium brand, we wouldn’t look at the entirety of the 80% in hopes of selling to them.

El Murr: With time, as the other 80% adopts the technology across the budget spectrum, purchasing from volume sellers and/or premium automakers, businesses in a multitude of industries will be interested to invest in the EV sector. With this mass adoption, the required infrastructure will be put in place.

Since electric vehicles have less moving parts than an internal combustion vehicle, it is said that they are supposedly less prone to malfunction. 

El Murr: EVs will bring another kind of problem with them, one different than a mechanical fault. Perhaps, mechanical faults might even be easier to repair.

The electric vehicle will be computerized and electrified, meaning issues like software bugs or viruses might become an issue.

To combat this, Volvo has an ongoing project that allows a technical team to diagnose and repair a fault vehicle entirely online, El Murr explained.

Volvo continues to be known as one of the safest car manufacturers in the world, inventing the original 3-point seatbelt and airbags many decades ago. In your opinion, do EVs pose any news risks to driver safety, and how will Volvo address this? 

El Murr: Actually, it’s the opposite. It’s safer.

Assaf: This year is the 60-year anniversary of the three-point safety belt, a Volvo invention that is offered to the world. On this occasion, Volvo Global is giving us a closer look at its Vision 2020 (No death nor serious injuries in Volvo Cars) plan:

Volvo has identified speeding, impairment, and distraction as the primary factors in vehicle-related deaths and major injuries. It aims to tackle these factors head-on to work towards the zero-accident goal.

1. Limiting the top speed on all its cars to 180 kph starting from 2021 models

2. Standardizing the Care Key by 2021, which allows any Volvo buyer to set a speed limit before lending it to others.

3. Deploying in-car cameras and intervention against impaired driving and distraction. In-car cameras and other sensors monitor the driver and allow the car to intervene if a clearly impaired or distracted driver does not respond to warning signals and is risking an accident involving serious injury or death.

While Volvo will, surely, be tackling this goal itself, it also requires the rest of the industry fully on board to accomplish it. For this reason, it launched the E.V.A. Initiative which stands for Equal Vehicle For All.

The initiative embodies and celebrates sixty years worth of sharing research into car safety with the world, but also highlights a fundamental issue with inequality in terms of car safety development.

“We have data on tens of thousands of real-life accidents to help ensure our cars are as safe as they can be for what happens in real traffic,” said Lotta Jakobsson, professor and senior technical specialist at Volvo Cars Safety Center.”

This means Volvo cars are developed with the aim to protect all people, regardless of gender, height, shape, or weight, beyond the ‘average person’ represented by crash test dummies.”

Assaf: Volvo is a human-centric car company that is built around people.