• electric XC40

Volvo’s First Electric Car Is Built Like a Proverbial Tank

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Volvo says they have figured out some significant pieces of the safety puzzle.

Matthew Guy By: Matthew Guy September 25, 2019

It should surprise exactly no one that Volvo is touting their prowess in the field of safety. After all, the brand spent years showing us images of their cars surviving calamities that would likely have reduced lesser vehicles into a fine metal powder.

Next month, the brand will be introducing the fully electric XC40 crossover vehicle, its first fully electric car. In lock step with Volvo tradition, it is being touted as one of the safest cars on the road despite a fresh set of challenges presented by the absence of an internal combustion engine.

Engines, as you’ll have no doubt noticed, are heavy metal lumps and, in most cars, sit squarely between the driver and the terrifying physics of a head-on collision. Years of safety research have resulted in the likes of crumple zones and the ability for an engine to ‘slide’ underneath a car during a hard wreck instead of intruding into the passenger compartment.

An all-electric car, like this new XC40, has no traditional engine placed ahead of the driver. This poses a significant set of new challenges for auto engineers when trying to keep occupants safe and sound. This is not to mention the high voltage equipment and generally large battery, both of which introduce new unknowns into the crash test equation.

electric XC40

electric XC40

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Volvo says they have figured out some significant pieces of the safety puzzle.

To help keep passengers safe and the battery intact in the event of a collision, Volvo developed a new and unique safety structure for passengers and the battery in this XC40. The battery is protected by a safety cage consisting of an extruded aluminum frame embedded into the middle of the car’s body structure, creating a built-in crumple zone around the battery. Clever.

Meanwhile, the XC40’s body structure has been reinforced in the front and rear compared to previous efforts. In these locations, the electric powertrain has been integrated into the body structure, creating a better distribution of collision forces  – namely, away from the cabin. This has the effect of reducing strain and crash forces on people inside the car.

A yaffle of active safety systems and driving nannies are baked into the XC40 as well, of course, including something called an Advanced Driver Assistance System. Scalable to other sized cars (meaning we should expect this kit on other Volvos in the future), it consists of radar, cameras, and sensors to lay the foundation of what the company calls autonomous drive technology.

Volvo Cars will reveal more details about the fully electric XC40 in the coming weeks, before it will be first shown to the public on October 16.