Volvo claims the electrical systems in its new SPA-based models will allow the quick integration of new technologies
12 December 2013

Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture will feature a new “ground-breaking” electrical system that allows the firm to take advantage of the latest safety technology without the need for significant reengineering.

SPA-based Volvo models will have an electrical architecture that has four “domains”, connected to each other. Each control vehicle dynamics, safety, car body or infotainment functions. 

It is designed to allow the integration of new technology, future-proofing SPA-based vehicles from the fast-paces development of microprocessor, sensor and camera technology.

R&D boss, Peter Mertens said: “Each master can be connected to every single unit in the whole architecture. This means that we have one single nerve system with full control over all the connections in the vehicle. This is unique in the industry.” 

The new, patented SPA safety cage, with its mix of different steel grades – including boron steel – has been made stronger and smarter. 

Volvo says its standard safety technology, such as airbags and seatbelts, continue to be enhanced. In SPA-based cars, for example, rear-mounted sensors will be used to activate the seatbelt pre-tensioners. Existing camera technology will be adapted to monitor lane departure and detect large animals and pedestrians in the dark.

A combination of adaptive cruise control with steer assist and front-mounted cameras will allow the next-generation XC90 to automatically follow the car ahead in queues and will form the basis of more advanced autonomous technologies in the future.

Volvo’s strategy boss, Jan Ivarsson said: “We retain our uncompromising attitude to offering superior crash protection. The new architecture opens up for further improvements. Seven per cent of the safety cage in the original XC90 was made of hot-formed boron steel. The structure in the upcoming all-new XC90 features over 40 per cent hot-formed steel, which translates into significantly improved strength but without adding mass or weight.”

The development of SPA is to be a crucial element in the firm’s commitment that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020.

Already the Swedish Traffic Accident Data Acquisition services say that modern Volvos have a 60 per cent lower injury rate compared to the average modern vehicle in Sweden. 

Our Verdict

Volvo XC90 2003-2014

The Volvo XC90 is a big seven seat SUV in desperate need of modernisation, despite still having some strengths

Join the debate


12 December 2013
Volvo seem to be doing alot of talking about their cars but very little building, hardly see any golf rivalling V40's (Ford focus part bin special)

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

12 December 2013
You are not looking hard enough, see plenty where I live, as for talking, they have just released a new range of inhouse designed engines, with the D4 version producing the same power as a BMW 2.0D, but with lower emissions, more torque and better mpg in either manual or automatic guise, whilst the other darling of the media Jaguar are still talking about their new engine, Volvo have produced theirs, and the V40 may use Ford parts, but its still the safest car ever tested by EuroNcap.

12 December 2013
Volvo needs to fast track this new technology into a new generation S60 & XC60 to further enhance their levels of refinement. Volvo are the only mass carmaker that is very true to their origins & concepts of Swedish design,the minimalism & maturity it encompasses.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • BMW M5
    First Drive
    22 March 2018
    Super saloon deploys four-wheel drive to improve every facet of its driving experience. Faster and more capable than any, and more exciting than most, of its celebrated predecessors
  • Range Rover Sport SVR
    First Drive
    22 March 2018
    More power and an intoxicating soundtrack have breathed new life into our love affair with the biggest, baddest Range Rover Sport variant
  • First Drive
    21 March 2018
    The new Vantage has been developed as a Porsche 911 beater, and our first taste on UK roads suggests it can live up to that bold claim
  • Nissan Leaf Tekna
    The is the new Nissan Leaf
    First Drive
    21 March 2018
    The new version of the world's best-selling electric car gains a bigger battery and more power. How does it compare to rivals such as the Volkswagen e-Golf?
  • Range Rover p400e
    First Drive
    20 March 2018
    The original luxury SUV is now available as a plug-in hybrid, promising lower emissions and the capacity for silent electric motoring