Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige News - NEIL McDON­ALD

THE Volvo that avoids ac­ci­dents could save Aussie driv­ers up to 30 per cent on their an­nual car in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums. Called city safety, the sys­tem will be stan­dard on the all-wheel-drive $60,000 XC60 wagon when it ar­rives in March.

Some lo­cal in­sur­ance com­pa­nies are al­ready pre­pared to give XC60 own­ers a 25 per cent re­duc­tion on pre­mi­ums even be­fore the car’s new safety sys­tem has been tested here.

Volvo Cars Aus­tralia spokes­woman Lau­rissa Mirabelli says pre­mium re­duc­tions of up to 30 per cent are avail­able in Europe for the XC60 in some mar­kets.

‘‘We will be work­ing hard to se­cure the same type of re­duc­tion here,’’ she says.

The NRMA will soon test the car, but a spokesper­son says it is too early to de­ter­mine po­ten­tial sav­ings. The in­surer al­ready ad­justs pre­mi­ums on cars fit­ted with elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, so the chances are good for city safety.

The RACV may fol­low suit. Chief en­gi­neer Michael Case wel­comes the sys­tem, but says the RACV will have to test it to de­ter­mine its ef­fec­tive­ness.

‘‘It does sound en­cour­ag­ing, though,’’ he says. ‘‘All in­sur­ance com­pa­nies will have to be looking at it and its po­ten­tial ef­fect on pre­mi­ums.’’

City safety op­er­ates via a laser beam pro­jected from be­hind the rearview mir­ror. It works at speeds up to 30km/h and mon­i­tors cars in front up to six me­tres.

If the driver does not see an ob­sta­cle or a car sud­denly stops ahead, it au­to­mat­i­cally brakes the car to a stop. And when it de­ter­mines a crash is im­mi­nent, it au­to­mat­i­cally ap­plies the full force of the brakes.

Volvo XC60 project di­rec­tor Lars Bren­wall says 30 per cent of all crashes are low-speed rear en­ders and in 50 per cent of cases the driver does not brake.

Bren­wall and his team have been work­ing on city safety for three years and it is ex­pected to ap­pear in newer-gen­er­a­tion Volvos in the fu­ture. Volvo ex­pects the sys­tem to be ex­panded to de­tect pedes­tri­ans within five years.

The com­pany has patents pend­ing, but be­cause Volvo is owned by Ford, the sys­tem will prob­a­bly swing across to Ford and may even end up on some Aussie mod­els in the fu­ture.

The sys­tem passed the ul­ti­mate test dur­ing de­vel­op­ment— get­ting around the fa­mous Arc de Tri­om­phe in Paris without in­ci­dent.

The famed round­about in the mid­dle of Paris is so danger­ous, in­sur­ance com­pa­nies au­to­mat­i­cally split in­sur­ance claims 50/50 rather than the usual at-fault ba­sis to avoid fre­quent and messy dis­putes.

Stop zone: how the city safety sys­tem works.

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