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14 Aug 09 18:39
Remember to Buckle Up! Volvo's three-point safety belt turns 50
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On Thursday August 13, 1959,
the world's first car with standard-fit three-point safety belts - a Volvo PV544 - was delivered to the Volvo dealer in the Swedish town of Kristianstad. Over the next 50 years, the V-shaped three-point safety belt saved over one million lives. Feed out, stretch, click and pull taut. A simple movement of the hand and the belt is in place - at the same time as the risk of fatality or serious injury in a collision is cut by more than 50 percent. To this day, the three-point safety belt remains the car's single most important safety feature. It is the most widely used and most significant safety innovation in the automobile's more than 120 year long history. It is the belt that links together man and car. It is the belt that restrains the car's occupants in an impact. At the same time, the occupants are held in place in the car and do not risk being thrown around inside the passenger compartment or hurled out of the vehicle in more complex accident scenarios.
Engineer Nils Bohlin understood the forces at work

There is a saying that the simplest is often the best. However, it was only towards the end of the 1950s that the car safety belt evolved into its current design, thanks to Volvo Nils Bohlin. There were different types of belt before that. Back in the 1930s, US doctors were beginning to impose demands that cars should be equipped with safety belts.The two-point lap belt was the most common solution, but there were also different variants of the three-point safety belt. The problem was that they did not protect their users sufficiently, especially not at high speeds. Former aviation engineer Nils Bohlin - before moving to Volvo he worked on the
development of aircraft catapult seats, among other things - understood early on the forces generated in a collision.

The same principles to this day

The belt must absorb force in the right area - across the pelvis and chest where the body is strongest. At the same time, it must be easy to use and adjust. The most important properties of Nils Bohlin's design were that the system consisted of a lap belt and a diagonal body belt, that the belt straps were anchored at a low attachment point beside the seat, that the belt geometry formed a "V" shape with the point directed toward the floor, and that the belt stayed in position and did not move under load. The very same principles apply to this day - every time you use the belt. On the Nordic market, the Volvo saloons PV544 and Volvo Amazon were the first cars to feature this world innovation. Volvo was thus the first car maker to equip its cars as standard with three-point safety belts. The invention was patented with what is known as an open patent that is to say anyone who wanted was granted free use the design.A giant step towards increased safety had now
been taken, but the three-point safety belt still did not achieve an immediate breakthrough. It would take another few years before the vast majority of customers and the rest of the car industry realised the safety belt's effectiveness as a lifesaver.

Volvo survey convinced the world

In 1963, Volvo launched the three-point safety belt in the USA and on other markets. Ahead of the launch, Volvo conducted sled tests and crash tests with cars featuring various types of safety belt. The results were crystal-clear: Volvo's three-point belt gave by far the best protection to the car's occupants. A few years later, in 1967, Volvo presented its ground-breaking "28,000 Accident Report" at a traffic safety conference in the USA. The report was based on data from all collisions involving Volvo cars in Sweden over a period of one year. Here too the result was crystal-clear - and the world finally began taking notice. The report showed clearly that the safety belt saved lives and that it also reduced injuries by about 50-60 percent.

More than a million lives saved

Today the three-point safety belt is fitted to cars the world over. Volvo introduced this feature as standard in both front and rear seats as far back as 1967. The modern safety belt is the cornerstone of the car's interior safety system, working alongside additional features such as airbags, belt pre-tensioners and force limiters.
The belt positions itself correctly in an impact - the pre-tensioner tightens the strap across the torso. It then gives at exactly the right moment so that the body can be restrained as gently as possible.

All within a few thousandths of a second.It is difficult to give an exact figure for how many lives the safety belt has saved - there are no globally coordinated traffic safety statistics. However, it is estimated that more than a million people owe their lives[I] to the safety belt, and it has saved many times that number of people from serious injury.

Considerable potential still remains

Use of the safety belt is still the most important factor for boosting traffic safety among car occupants. In a global perspective, there is still considerable potential. Safety belt use differs immensely between different parts of the world and different countries. The three-point safety belt has been saving lives for 50 years - and it will continue to save lives within the foreseeable future.
Every percentage of increased usage makes a difference.

In the USA, it is estimated that each percentage increase in belt usage would save 270 lives a year[II]. Studies in Europe show that

another 7000 lives would be able to be saved if all EU countries had the same usage statistics as the best[III].
And the potential is even greater in parts of Africa, Asia and South America where the number of cars is increasing very quickly.
Remember! Everyone in the car should wear the safety belt. Click! Every time.
I. Estimate by Volvo based on general and in-house statistics on accidents and belt usage.
II. National Center for Statistics and Analysis (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA), Traffic Safety Facts, 2007.
III. Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP).

VOLVO Car Thailand wants government green light for E85 fuel

Like most car manufacturers who are interested in building E85 alternative fuel vehicles in Thailand, Volvo Car Thailand has stated that a clear direction from the government is required for the company to consider more E85 models.

Volvo is the only auto maker in the Thai market that produces E85 capable vehicles, the S80 2.5FT. The government's lack of direction in the E85 issue has been a major hurdle for other auto manufacturers like Honda, GM and Ford, which have stated that decisions cannot be made without a clear road map.

"While currently the ratio between diesel versions and E85 versions of the S80 are 60:40 respectively, by the end of this year we expect it to be 50:50.

Customers are accepting the E85 version over time, as it gives them the choice to fill with the cheapest fuel available, whether that is E10, E20 or E85. For Volvo in Thailand, E85 is the future," said Mrs Chantana Vatanaromya, newly appointed president of Volvo Car Thailand.

While E20 vehicles currently have an excise tax rate of 25 percent, E85 vehicles despite being a greener option also have a similar tax rate. Auto companies want lower excise tax rates and support for investment related to E85 along with a clear road map on the future of E85. Part of the future plans for ethanol must include how the government plans to support ethanol producers.

Chantana was speaking at a press conference held by the company to announce that Volvo will launch the S40 and V50 models in Thailand in October. Both cars will come with a 2.0-litre engine, will be imported from Malaysia and will take advantage of the AFTA tax regulations. Both cars will cost Bt1.799 million and will be capable of using E10 Gasohol. The company will also launch minor-change versions of the S80 and XC90.

"We have not been able to launch the S40 and V50 in the past as the engine sizes available abroad came with manual gearbox only. These cars will appeal to those who want a premium car, but not something too big. The S40 (S = Saloon, the smallest sedan in the Volvo family) will be more for the individual, while the V50 (V=Versatility Volvo's smallest station wagon) is for those who have families," said Chantana.

By the first quarter of 2010 the company expects to sell about 100 units of the S40 and V50 combined. That adds up to 25 percent of Volvo's sales volume. Volvo hopes that the company can sell close to 560 units by the end of this year, similar to last year. For the first six months of this year the company has sold over 200 units.

In June this year, Volvo launched the new XC60 Crossover Utility Vehicle, of which the company has sold 13 units. A total of 36 units are expected to be sold by the first quarter of 2010.

Volvo will also open three new showrooms this year, one in Bangkok, one in Chon Buri Easern Seaboard and another in Northh Eastern Khon Kaen. This will increase the total number of Volvo showrooms nationwide to eight, along with two facilities that are service stations only.

Volvo is currently positioned third in the premium car market segment after Mercedes Benz and B.M.W. The company has a 10 percent share of the total premium auto market. The premium passenger car market in Thailand is at about 5,000-6,000 units.
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