Among all the safety features introduced on the V40 compact hatchback, which as you may have already heard, will not be coming to North America, the most impressive is the ground-breaking pedestrian airbag that will be fitted as standard to all specifications.
Developed as part of the Swedish automaker's somewhat unrealistic goal that "no-one should be killed or injured in a new Volvo by 2020", the V40's pedestrian air-bag promises to significantly reduce the risks of head injuries.
"We are proud to be able to offer a car with an airbag for pedestrians," says Thomas Broberg, Senior Technical Advisor Safety at Volvo Car Corporation. "The purpose of the airbag is to help protect pedestrians in certain situations when they impact the bonnet and the area around the windscreen wiper recess and A-pillar, where there may be a risk of serious head injuries."
Volvo says that in Europe, 14 percent of traffic fatalities are pedestrians, while in the U.S.A., the figure is 12 percent and in China, 25 percent.
The Swedish automaker's system comprises of seven sensors embedded in the front end of the car that transmit signals to a control unit which evaluates them and when necessary, raises the rear end of the bonnet by 100mm (about 4 inches) through the use of pyrotechnic release mechanisms and deploys an air-bag, thus creating a dampening effect when it is hit by a pedestrian.
"The airbag has two functions," explains Broberg. "Firstly, it raises the bonnet to create distance, and secondly it cushions the impact around the hard parts of the area near the windscreen."
Volvo says the system is active at speeds between 20km/h and 50 km/h (12mph and 31mph).