Last Wednesday, Volvo Car Group became the first major manufacturer to say it will start phasing out vehicles powered solely by fossil fuels, joining a parade of manufacturers shifting toward electric cars. The Swedish automaker plans to offer only hybrid or full-electric powertrains on every new model launched in 2019 or later, and it expects to have five fully electric vehicles in its lineup by 2021. That means Volvo will make its last full-gasoline or diesel car in about 2025.
Volvo hopes that by making its new XC60 SUV bigger, safer and more technologically advanced it will be able to surpass the success of the current model, which finished 2016 as Europe’s best-selling premium midsize SUV.
Volvo has packed the second-generation XC60 with new safety technology that provides the driver with automatic steering assistance or support to help avoid potential collisions. Two of the new advanced driver assistance features are standard in every XC60. The first is an upgrade of the SUV’s City Safety system to include steering help at speeds of 50kph to 100kph when automatic braking alone would not stop a collision with another vehicle, pedestrian or large animal. The second is a new system called Oncoming Lane Mitigation, which helps drivers avoid collisions with vehicles in the oncoming lane at speeds of 60kph to 140kph. The system alerts a driver who has drifted out of a lane and automatically steers the driver out of the path of any oncoming traffic. A third safety technology, which is optional, is called Blind Spot Information System. Along with alerting a driver to the presence of a vehicle in the blind spot, the system has been upgraded to steer the car back into its own lane and away from danger.
The new XC60 has an electro-mechanical rack and pinion steering system that delivers high precision at all speeds, said Per Ola Fuxin, senior director of driving dynamics at Volvo. “There is a faster connection between the steering and the wheels. That makes the car more responsive to the driver’s input, which helps boost the driver’s confidence,” he said. Fuxin said that the XC60’s double wishbone front suspension also helps make the driver feel more in control because the car remains parallel when cornering.
Volvo made the new XC60 44mm longer (4688mm), 108mm wider (1999mm) while reducing the SUV’s height by 55mm (1658mm). Despite the changes, the XC60’s weight is either 20 kg lighter or 20 kg heavier than its predecessor, depending on the powertrain. This was achieved through extensive use of lightweight materials such as aluminum and hot-formed boron steel.