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The Pschology of Safety

Volvo Cars is taking another big leap into the future of cars. We catch up with Malin Ekholm, from the Volvo Cars Safety Centre, to discover why Volvo takes a holistic approach to safety.

“I would love it if you feel so confident in a Volvo that you don’t have to think about safety at all,” says Malin Ekholm. Considering that Malin is vice president of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre, this seems like an odd thing for her to say. But as someone who works in a department with a far-reaching influence throughout the company, she believes that safety is much more than just technology. Instead, she says, it’s about a feeling – a state of mind.

“Take our seats as an example. Our ergonomics team starts by asking how can we make the most comfortable seat possible,” explains Malin. “Because when you’re sitting comfortably you choose to wear your seat belt. This is where safety starts – understanding what your needs are and designing safety technology around that.”

She believes that making people feel comfortable and in control in their car is safety. “Safety gives you confidence, and when you are confident you are able to interact with the car better. And then, when we add convenience, you have a car that works for you.”

As an example, Malin talks about preparing for a journey before you even get in the car. With the Volvo On Call app, you can send your calendar to your Volvo’s navigation. It means your car will know where to go, and how long it will take to get there, even before you are sitting at the steering wheel. And, should you be unlucky enough to be in a collision, Volvo On Call even supports you by alerting the emergency services. “It’s all about taking the stress and strain out of the everyday car experience by providing that sense of control, confidence and support that Volvo Cars’ customers are looking for,” she says.

The influence of safety is felt in every aspect of the car – from how it is designed, how predictable it feels when you drive and even to the way you access and play your music. “The car should support the driver and help them focus on driving,” explains Malin. That’s why the safety team works closely with other teams at Volvo Cars. Take vehicle dynamics – when you feel in control you’re more relaxed. And when you’re more relaxed, your mind is sharper.

Words by Ian Dickson

By doing so much research we can design safety and usability around people.
Vice President, Volvo Cars Safety Centre

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