Archive for the ‘volvo’ Category

Volvo says from 2019 all new models it introduces will be electric or hybrid

July 5th, 2017

Enlarge / Volvo’s current plug-in hybrid range, the S90, V90, XC60 and XC90 T8s. (credit: Volvo Cars)

On Wednesday, Volvo Cars announced that all new models introduced from 2019 will feature some form of electric propulsion. The news follows an announcement in May that diesel engines have no future with the brand, in part because of ever-stricter EU carbon emissions targets, but also because of the growing concern over the health effects of diesel exhaust, which is loaded with particulates and nitrogen oxides.

When it comes to socially responsible car companies, Volvo appears to be leading the pack. The Swedish automaker, which built its reputation on safety, has already committed to a goal of reducing the number of deaths or serious injuries in a new Volvo to zero by the year 2020. And it looks like that concern extends beyond the wellbeing of its customers to the rest of us as well.

Between 2019 and 2021, Volvo plans to launch five new electric vehicles. Details about the new EVs are scarce at present, but the company says that three of them will be badged as Volvos, and the other two will be high-performance EVs badged as Polestars. (Polestar is Volvo’s in-house tuning operation, and you’ll be able to read a review of the S60 Polestar here at Ars in a few weeks.)

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Volvo says no more diesel engines, the future is electric

May 18th, 2017

Enlarge / Hakan Samuelsson, chief executive officer of Volvo Cars. (credit: Linus Hook/Bloomberg | Getty Images)

Volvo has come down with a case of electric fever, and the cure is “no more diesel engines.” The company’s CEO, Håkan Samuelsson, recently told German publication Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that Volvo’s current diesel engines may well be the last of their kind. Samuelsson said that the technology is necessary to meet upcoming European carbon emission standards, which require OEMs to drop from 130g/km to just 95g/km in 2021.

But the outlook farther ahead involves regulations that will also severely limit nitrogen oxides (NOx). As a result, the company will devote its energy to electrification instead.

As we reported earlier this week, NOx are noxious and linked to 38,000 premature deaths in 2015 alone. Contributing to that body count is evidently beyond the pale for an automaker which has built an impressive reputation for safety. The news is all the more remarkable given that the bulk of its sales in Europe are diesel-engined vehicles. Right now, Volvo uses a 2.0L diesel engine that shares much with the 2.0L gasoline engine that we get here in the US in the S90, V90, and XC90 models.

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The best of the 2017 New York International Auto Show

April 14th, 2017

Jonathan Gitlin

NEW YORK—It seems like barely any time has passed since our last major auto show, but the world’s auto makers are back in Manhattan this week for the 2017 New York International Auto Show. You’ll be able to read (and watch) our take on many of the new vehicles on display in the coming days, but what follows are our picks for the best new models you’ll be able to see at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, starting today when the auto show opens to the public.

Outstanding in the Automotive Technology field: Cadillac Supercruise

Since this is a technology site, we’ll kick things off with the best new automotive technology of this year’s NYIAS. That honor belongs to Cadillac, which is joining the semi-autonomous driving fray with its new “level 2” system, called Supercruise. We have driven some pretty good semi-autonomous systems recently: Audi, Volvo, and Tesla all spring immediately to mind. These use a combination of adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assists to keep your car on track on the highway, backing up the human driver to counteract fatigue and provide a little digital helping hand on long drives. Supercruise combines those two driver assists with a few extra neat features that mark the next step on the road to fully self-driving vehicles.

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Posted in alfa romeo, Ars Approved, BMW, cadillac, Cars Technica, Features, Ford, NYIAS, porsche, RAM, volvo | Comments (0)

Volvo’s autonomous Drive Me research project gets underway

January 13th, 2017

Video shot and edited by Jennifer Hahn. (video link)

DETROIT—Volvo is among the leaders of the pack of automakers when it comes to autonomous driving. The various advanced driver assists in its current XC90 and S90 are some of the best we’ve tested, and the carmaker recently linked up with Uber to develop redundant systems in self-driving cars. But before there was the Uber collaboration, there was Drive Me, a multiyear research program that the company will use to look at how it, as a car maker, can contribute to a “sustainable society.” In the video above, we speak to Trent Victor, senior technical leader of crash avoidance at Volvo, about the program.

Volvo chose this year’s North American International Auto Show to hand over the first set of keys in the Drive Me program. It’s in the process of recruiting 100 families in Gothenburg, Sweden, but the first lucky family is the Hains. Over the next few years, the Hains and the other participating families will be testing out a number of different research vehicles like the XC90 SUV seen in the video. In addition to testing out new iterations of self-driving systems, the vehicles will also be fitted with sensors and data loggers in the cabin to monitor the occupants.

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Posted in Ars Technica Videos, autonomous driving, Cars Technica, Drive Me, NAIAS 2017, self-driving, volvo | Comments (0)

Tesla needs better interiors, hires Volvo’s head of interiors to help

December 22nd, 2016


Anyone who has driven a Tesla can’t help but be impressed by what the company has achieved in just a few short years. OK, the Roadster was basically a Lotus Elise underneath, but the Model S and Model X are ground-up designs and feature a very impressive powertrain. But at the same time, anyone who has driven a Model S or Model X also can’t help but notice the company’s weakest point—the terrible interiors. Evidently Tesla has realized this, and has poached Volvo’s head of interiors, Anders Bell, in order to remedy the problem.

I’m sure writing this will enrage some of the company’s more vociferous online supporters, but I make no apologies. It’s evident to see all the R&D money has been spent on that powertrain and on software (particularly Autopilot); the cabins have been almost an afterthought. It’s not just a lack of design flair—although that is certainly true. It’s also the materials used, most of which would look out of place in an economy car in 2016, let alone a luxury SUV or sedan that starts out at more than $60,000. And this stuff is important. As a driver, the interior of a car is the bit that you’ll look at and touch almost all the time.

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California DMV orders Uber to stop self-driving car tests on SF roads [Updated]

December 14th, 2016

Enlarge (credit: Uber)

Update: California’s DMV has ordered Uber to stop testing its self-driving hardware and software on California roads until the company gets from proper permitting from the state, according to a letter seen by the Associated Press. Ars Technica has reached out to Uber for comment but has yet to receive a response.

Original story: Uber has started testing self-driving functions on roads in San Francisco after a few months of testing its sensor suite and hardware on the streets of Pittsburgh.

The ride-hailing company has three Volvo XC90s, each equipped with Uber’s hardware and software. (Although Volvo has made strides in self-driving functions, Uber is using its own system.) When a passenger requests a ride, Uber lets the passenger know a car with self-driving functions will be picking them up, and the passenger can accept or decline the ride. An Uber engineer rides in the front seat at all times.

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Hate driving to the gas station? Meet Volvo’s new connected concierge service

November 17th, 2016

Enlarge (credit: Volvo)

LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—On Thursday at the LA Auto Show, Volvo announced a new connected car app that aims to free users from having to deal with pesky things like taking the car to the gas station or car wash. It’s called Volvo Concierge Services, and it’s a pilot program in the Bay Area that will allow S90 and XC90 owners to get their cars refueled, serviced, or valeted from their smartphones.

We spoke to Volvo US CEO Lex Kersemakers to find out more about the idea:

We have a number of important missions, but one of them is to make life less complicated—for our customers, not for ourselves. We want to reach a point where our customers never need to fill up their car again, or drive to the car wash themselves. We have the technology, so we realized we could create a digital key which gives a vendor temporary access to a car. We’ve created a secure open platform, with secure vendors to see how we can extend the level of convenience for our customers. It uses preselected vendors in your area, you send them a digital key, they come pick up the car, fill it up, return it, and you get billed digitally. It sounds very easy, but there’s a lot of technology, if not a lot of lawyers involved.

Volvo is taking advantage of its new Scalable Product Architecture vehicle platform (that’s used by the XC90 and S90) to try out something that until now has been the preserve of discussions around autonomous cars of the future—freeing owners from some of the day-to-day grind of car maintenance. Proponents of autonomous tech often refer to the idea of one’s car going off and parking or refueling itself while the owner is busy getting on with their life, and this is (sort of) the first step along that path—although for now actual humans are involved in the process.

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Volvo execs talk self-driving aspirations over the V90 Cross Country reveal

October 17th, 2016

Megan Geuss

VAIL, Colo.—It’s 8 am in mid-September, and the air in the Rocky Mountains is cold and crisp and still. A small group of journalists and car reviewers drives Volvo S90s and XC60s down 10 miles of dirt road to get to a lodge by the side of the picturesque Piney Lake, where the Swedish automaker will announce the company’s V90 Cross Country—the latest in Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) line of cars.

Mechanically, this new model is more-or-less an S90 tweaked to make it ideal (or so Volvo claims) for off-roading. (We should note the Volvo XC90 also handles off-roading, but that vehicle was curiously absent from the day’s events.) The Colorado-based event, like its sister event in Sweden, was tailored to show the invitees that Volvos aren’t just luxury vehicles—they’re built for “Swedish ruggedness” and suffer “battle scars” easily. (I assumed “battle scars” to mean scratches and dings, although maybe even an arrow to the wheel—I didn’t ask.)

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Hanging out in Volvo’s “Concept 26,” a reinvented seat for a self-driving car

November 18th, 2015

CAMARILLO, CALIF.—When people imagine the future of self-driving cars, they might think of steering wheel-less pods with swivel chairs and a lounge-like cabin atmosphere. Just program your destination into the vehicle and take a seat, as blissfully unaware of the ensuing traffic as you would be on a train.

But Volvo doesn’t agree with that vision, at least at this point. Speaking to a small gathering of journalists at its Motoring & Concept Center, a nondescript building just off the 101 freeway, company executives maintained that people really do want to drive—they just don’t want to drive when driving is boring.

Building on that belief, Volvo created what it calls “Concept 26,” a re-imagined car interior with seats built for the autonomous vehicle customer who wants to drive a luxury vehicle sometimes, but who also wants to delegate the time spent commuting (26 minutes on average for the American driver, hence the name “Concept 26”). It’s important to Volvo’s customers to be able to drive their cars, Anders Tylman-Mikiewicz, the head of Volvo’s Monitoring and Concept Center, said, but it’s also important that they “get the option to delegate driving when it’s boring.”

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Talking the safety of self-driving cars with Volvo

October 15th, 2015

The fully autonomous car—one that will carry you from point A to B with no human intervention—is coming. We’re not quite there yet; the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has laid out four different levels of autonomous car and even the most advanced adaptive cruise control systems on sale today represent only level 2 autonomy. But the technology for level 4 autonomous vehicles is not far off. Yesterday, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk told Ars that he thought Tesla would have the technology solved in about three years. Even the more cautious estimates we’ve heard from companies developing self-driving cars predict that they’ll be safer than human drivers within a decade. In fact, everyone in the industry that Ars has talked to agrees on one thing: the technology is going to be ready before we—society—are ready for it.

Before we start buying self-driving cars, people will need to be convinced that they’re safe and that they won’t be hacked or used to spy on us. Regulators will need new ways of satisfying themselves that the machines they’re allowing onto the roads are a safety improvement. And we’ll want to know who is liable for any collisions that happen when a car is driving itself. Last week we attended a debate hosted by Volvo and the Swedish Embassy in Washington, DC to delve into these topics.

Here in the US, safety is the main force pushing us toward self-driving cars. NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind gave a keynote address, telling the audience that 32,000 deaths a year on the road is unacceptable, particularly when 94 percent of them are attributed to driver error. “If technology will reduce deaths on American roads, [the NHTSA is] for it, right now,” he said. Rosekind also said that safety innovations should be pushed beyond the option lists of luxury cars and be available across the entire passenger fleet.

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