Volvo Value Proposition, Part 4

The latest blog post from Halden Zimmermann

IX. Leveraging the Points of Difference

(1) Safety:


Volvo’s primary competitive advantage is its reputation for top-notched safety.  In creating the XC90, Volvo recognized the importance of not compromising this standard.  The result is a vehicle that is equipped with a rather remarkable array of safety features not traditionally found in the SUV market.

Perhaps of equal importance is the fact that Volvo goes to great lengths emphasizing these safety features.  In fact, the XC90 website uses safety as the benchmark when compared to Acura, BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes.  Whereas the other websites include safety as an adjunct that is often only recognized in passing, Volvo uses it as the core of their presentation with several dozen references to “world first” safety features from beginning to end.

Among the most differentiating of safety features, the XC90 is equipped with a new anti-rollover system known as Roll Stability Control (RSC).  Volvo designed what they termed as “the moose test” in honor of Sweden’s real world moose population to test the unique ability of RSC to simulate a sudden avoidance situation.  The RSC uses a gyroscope to determine the risk of rollover and automatically activates other systems that stabilize the vehicle during these situations.  The moose test proved that drivers could reduce the risk of a rollover initiated by extreme maneuvers.

The XC90 also provides enhanced protection with a powerful boron steel-reinforced roofing structure.  Again, competitors make no mention in their literature as to the strength of the materials used in their vehicles, while Volvo is careful to note that the XC90 uses materials that are four-to five-times stronger than those of their competitors.

Another “world first” Volvo highlights is their attention to all three passenger rows.  Where the competitors configurations cover the first two rows of their respective vehicles using traditional and optional airbags, the XC90 comes standard with inflatable side curtains also cover all three rows of seating, providing additional security for every passenger during an accident.  Three-point safety belts are also standard in every row so that occupants are held firmly in place at all times and protected against whiplash.

A less-common theme in the design of SUVs is their compatibility with other vehicles during the event of an accident.  This differentiation has practical implications beyond insurance and extends into what Volvo calls a “social conscience.”   Volvo owners can be confident that their vehicles will mitigate the damages often seen in collisions between competitor’s SUVs and the smaller vehicles on the road.  Specifically, the XC90’s lower front suspension beam is positioned to strike the protective structure of a conventional car and activating its crumple zone and thereby providing maximum protection.  Risks of injuries from frontal, rear, and side collisions are also reduced.  Competitors have no such engineering with respect to compatibility.

The XC90 takes this “social conscience” a step further in its relationship with cyclists and pedestrians.  In fact, the entire front section of the XC90 is smooth and gentle, with a lack of protruding parts should the vehicle come into contact with a pedestrian or cyclist.  The front bumper is offset from the engine in such a way that it acts as an impact-absorbing bumper in these conditions.  An exhaustive search of data regarding Acura, BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes reveal no such considerations.

from Halden Zimmermann


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