In what is termed as the most extreme crash test ever executed by Volvo Cars, the Swedish marque dropped several new cars multiple times from a crane, from a height of 30 metres. The exercise was undertaken to allow rescue services to prepare for any possible crash scenario and to simulate the forces that erupt in the most extreme crashes, beyond what can be simulated with ordinary crash testing.
Swedish extrication specialists often use cars crashed at the Volvo Cars Safety Center to hone their life-saving skills. In this test, a total of ten Volvos, of different models, were dropped from the crane several times. Before the drop, Volvo Cars safety engineers made exact calculations about how much pressure and force each car needed to be exposed to, in order to reach the desired level of damage.
Volvo says the tests helped create enough damage to adequately simulate the damage found in the most extreme crash scenarios such as single-car accidents at very high speed, accidents whereby a car hits a truck at high speed, or accidents whereby a car takes a severe hit from the side.
“We have been working closely together with the Swedish rescue services for many years,” says Håkan Gustafson, a senior investigator with the Volvo Cars Traffic Accident Research Team. “That is because we have the same goal: to have safer roads for all. We hope no one ever needs to experience the most severe accidents, but not all accidents can be avoided. So it is vital there are methods to help save lives when the most severe accidents do happen.”
All findings from the crashes and the resulting extrication work will be collected in an extensive research report, which will be made available free of use to rescue workers elsewhere, allowing them to benefit from the findings and further develop their life-saving capabilities.
Usually, rescue workers get their training vehicles from scrapyards. But these cars are often up to two decades old. And in terms of steel strength, safety cage construction and overall durability, there is a vast difference between modern cars and those built fifteen to twenty years ago. Since new Volvos are made of harder steel, such tests help rescue workers update their familiarity with newer car models and review their processes, in order to develop new extrication techniques.