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Volvo S80 counts the cost in crash

Costly crasher: Both front airbags deployed in Volvo's S80 during a low-speed crash test conducted in the US.

Volvo's S80 proved costly to fix following a series of low-speed crash tests conducted by a US institute

3 Apr 2000

THE Volvo S80 sedan was the most expensive car to fix among 17 vehicles subjected to a series of low-speed crash tests conducted by a US institute representing large insurers.

The tests, carried out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, were designed to determine the cost of repairing cars following low-speed collisions.

The research group conducted four crash tests, two frontal and two rear, from 8km/h. Luxury cars as a group were the worst performers.

It cost an average of $3305 to repair the S80 when all four tests were taken into account. Mazda's MPV people- mover had the second-highest average repair cost, at $2323.

Mazda last Tuesday announced a program to reinforce the front bumpers on all of its 2000 model-year MPV minivans in the US.

The Volvo's total cost of repairs was pushed higher than others because the two front airbags deployed during the frontal collision into the flat barrier.

That test alone contributed a damage bill of $8421, with airbags accounting for $7377.

These results may not be applicable to Australian-spec cars as local airbag specifications vary from US-bound vehicles due to wearing of seatbelts being compulsory here.

As a rule, airbags in US-spec cars trigger at lower speeds and deploy with greater force to restrain occupants who may not be wearing seatbelts.

Officials at Volvo's US offices in New Jersey attributed the airbag action to a rare series of events that Volvo could not repeat, despite running the same frontal collision five times at its own facility.

Volvo's director of automotive safety in the US, Mr William Shapiro, was quoted as saying there are more than 50,000 S80s on the road in the US, and the company has no record of confirmed cases of airbags deploying under similar circumstances.

"We believe, based on our testing and the real world experience we have seen, it's a very rare event," Mr Shapiro said.

Taking the airbag action out, Mr Shapiro said the S80 would have an average repair bill of $1408, comparable to other luxury makes.

Ford and government officials last week opened a new $123.7 million testing center at Volvo's Torslanda works in Gothenburg, Sweden.

After watching a high-speed simulated crash between two Volvo cars - known for their safety - Ford chief executive Mr Jac Nasser was quoted as saying, "I would still buy a Volvo." In addition to the S80 and MPV, other vehicles that earned "poor" ratings were the Mazda Protege and Cadillac Catera. The total damage bills for some of the models crash- tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are: Audi A6 - $3326 BMW 328i - $3984 Daewoo Leganza - $4220 Mazda MPV - $9180 Volvo S80 - $13,114

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