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Volvo puts performance first with driving simulator

Testing times: Volvo follows Ferrari and Porsche into the virtual world of high-speed vehicle testing with the Vi-Grade chassis simulator.

Driving simulator used by Porsche, Ferrari set to change Volvo’s future models


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Volvo logo8 Oct 2015


VOLVO Cars this week made a sudden change in vehicle development, investing in a sophisticated driving simulation system used by Ferrari and Porsche to redefine the way its cars perform.

The left-field investment by Volvo in the German-made Vi-Grade chassis simulator is in contrast to its direction in previous decades that focused on safety and economy, and highlights the company's desire to focus on driving experience.

Volvo Cars said in a release that the change was in line with the introduction of its new scalable product architecture (SPA) – that made its debut on the XC90 this year – and the in-house drivetrain development and that the simulator would be used to create the next generation of Volvo products.

Volvo Cars senior vice-president of research and development Peter Mertens said the system was evidence of the company's investment in the future, and its desire to build cars that are enjoyable to drive.

“We will improve drivability across the entire Volvo Cars range,” he said.

“We are making substantial investments in people, technology and facilities in order to redefine the Volvo driving experience.

“Our aim is to deliver full control, ease and dexterity at the wheel.”

The simulator and its bespoke software can reproduce road conditions including Germany’s Nurburgring circuit and Volvo’s test tracks in Sweden.

Dr Mertens said it allowed Volvo Cars to conduct early stage development work on high-speed stability, balance and individual drive mode settings.

He said that the development was designed to produce cars that were more responsive, more rewarding and even more enjoyable to drive.

“We have made some critical investments both in terms of our research and development facilities and in our product components in recent times that are now beginning to pay dividends,” he said.

“Our completely new scalable product architecture, our modular powertrain program and the latest chassis components are the starting point.”

Volvo Cars manager of vehicle dynamics Stefan Karlsson said the simulator would lead to more freedom at concept stage and a shorter vehicle development time.

“The beauty of the new simulator is that it provides us with the opportunity to physically experience the calculation models and evaluate them using human test drivers, rather than staring at graphs and numbers in a meeting room,” he said.

Mr Karlsson said the simulator could remove “weeks” from the prototype stage of vehicle development.

The Vi-Grade equipment provides vehicle engineers with integrated driving simulators that bridges the gap between virtual prototyping and testing.

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