PREMIUM INTEREST IN SAFETY FIRST
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.