Last week we published an article on Volvo’s intention to manufacture death proof cars by 2020. The car maker is already known for its obsession with safety. Our Guest Columnist Augustine Moyo, who is also a car enthusiast, this week gives us a piece on his personal experiences with this brand during an accident.
VOLVO is a brand that not many Zimbabweans take seriously when compared to other vehicle brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
This is definitely not the car to buy when looking for prestige and “standing out in the crowd”.
However, when safety matters to you, this is definitely the car to buy.
There has been debate over the years if indeed Volvo is the safest car in the world or “Volvo for Life” is just a marketing gimmick to sell a “boring” brand.
However, let me be quick to point out that Ford, which was Volvo’s parent company back then before Chinese car maker Geely bought the Swedish car maker, was not investing much in research and development.
This is why even in the cut-throat SUVs segment Volvo was stuck with its XC90, which had become a candidate for the archives for more than a decade while its competitors were churning out new designs and models.
However, that is now a thing of the past.
You just need to see and test drive the all-new Volvo XC90 to understand that the Chinese shareholder is serious.
Today, I share a very personal testimony about how Volvo saved my life sometime last year.
I have been involved in accidents before but this one was a one-way ticket to the grave.
Truth be told. Had I been in any other car, I would have joined my ancestors in the afterlife.
Volvo is the first car maker that introduced the three-point seatbelt as it has come to be known today and never patented the technology so that other car makers can use their innovation for free in the spirit of passenger safety.
Volvo introduced the side impact protection system (SIPS) which is now standard in all Volvos. Volvo introduced the laminated glass as we have come to know it today and Volvo pioneered the WHIPS seats (whiplash protection system). The WHIPS is an energy absorption system on the Volvo seats that protects against whiplash injuries.
On the tragic day, it was just after 2am when I was making my daily drive home from Harare in the new shape Volvo S80.
The S80 is Volvo’s flagship sedan. It is to Volvo what the S-Class is to Mercedes-Benz.
There I was cruising in the 2,4 litre D5 S80 along the Harare-Mutare highway and the power of the D5 diesel engine gave me the adrenalin to floor the accelerator a little more.
I last recall seeing my digital speedometer at 142 kilometres per hour as I drove past Dzimbahwe Lodges.
At that point, my mind was just focused on getting home to rest as I was already feeling very sleepy and exhausted.
I cannot recall how my car missed a curve to the left and had a head-on collision with a stationary Freightliner haulage horse (long nose) pulling a fuel tanker at the doorstep of the famous “kwa Mtangadura” highway stop over.
I was told by the other driver that there were four fuel tankers with fuel parked side by side at kwa Mtangadura on the tragic day and they all could have easily caught fire, reducing the whole place into ruins.
I can only recall a loud bang and the vehicle landing on the highway.
Due to Volvo’s energy absorption chassis, the car did not stay under the haulage truck but somewhat repelled itself to the highway. Nor did it overturn.
It was dark as all my headlights had been damaged in the accident.
The seatbelt tightened me hard to the seat and in the process I lost consciousness because of the impact. I regained consciousness and discovered that I was under an oxygen mask at a private hospital in Harare.
I was discharged later in the morning with no broken bones and no visible injuries. Arriving at the accident scene with my friends and police, I was shocked at what I saw. Those milling around the wreckage of my “once” new Volvo S80 were passing on the rumour that the driver had died.
It was quite understandable for the haulage truck was seriously damaged by the impact.
Part of its bell housing was mauled, while the stabilising bar was bent. However, the Volvo’s interior (passenger cage) was intact. It was easy to think that something bigger than the Volvo had crashed into the Freightliner.
Taking the statement from myself and the other driver, one of the senior police said to me, “My friend, its high time you pray to your God because this doesn’t look too good. This haulage truck was seriously damaged and as for you, had you been driving any other car, we would not be talking to you but called the fire brigade to come cut you out from under this truck.
“The type of car you were driving saved your life. I know this car,” he said.
In my heart, I agreed with him as I was still in shock that my favourite and most loved car was in the state that it was in.
The fenders of the car were ripped from the vehicle and were like pieces of paper crushed by hand. Interestingly, thanks to the side impact protection system, the left door was as intact as if nothing had happened to the exterior of the car.
Only one air-bag — the left one on the dashoard — popped out.
I have nothing against Mercedes-Benz but I know that I wouldn’t have survived that kind of impact in a Mercedes-Benz.
I know because I have been involved in an accident before in a Mercedes-Benz.
The Volvo windscreen had very minor damages. The Volvo passenger cage didn’t collapse under the impact but you could tell where it would have ordinarily collapsed. Volvo’s goal is zero deaths in a Volvo by 2020 and they have made it public that by 2020, no one will be killed or seriously injured in a Volvo.
In 2001, the Volvo S80 was said to be the safest car in the world in Europe and the United States based on tests carried out by three independent test institutes.
To this day, I volunteer to crash test any Volvo and I am 100 percent sure that I will come out alive with no broken limbs.
“Volvo for life” is not just a marketing gimmick but the very core of Volvo’s existence.
The new 2016 Volvo XC90, which is now already on the streets of Harare is touted as the safest SUV ever built.
The new XC90 is a precursor to what to expect from Volvo in terms of new design themes and technological advancements for other Volvo models.
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