The safety-conscious folks over at Volvo have been hard at work with child seat maker Britax-Romer on developing a range of next-generation infant, child, and booster seats. And while the seats are going on sale elsewhere in the world, they apparently face an obstacle in the US: the National Higway Traffic Safety Administration. How's that? According to Inside Line, NHTSA mandates that every child seat must fit in every car, but the Volvo-branded seats have been developed to be Volvo-specific items, which means they can't be sold here – not even to Volvo owners.
According to an anonymous Inside Line source at Volvo:
"NHTSA has mandated that child seats cannot be vehicle-specific... every seat must fit every car - in our opinion, this just makes for an inferior seat.
The source goes on to say:
"We have requested rule changes by NHTSA and have been ignored. While NHTSA's rules certainly benefit all consumers, we have a solution that is the best solution for our cars.
Volvo's new infant and convertible child seats are highly adjustable and serve kids from newborns up to age six, with the latter seat able to keep older children facing the rear – something that hasn't previously been possible. The booster seat has eleven height settings and can serve kids up to age ten. The seats will go on sale in Europe and Asia this year, but Americans and Canadians are out of luck.
Be sure to check out the gallery below and vote in our "Is NHTSA right?" poll after the jump (where you can also read Volvo's full press release).
Is NHTSA correct in mandating that children's car seats must be universal?
Volvo Cars launches three new child restraints for children of all ages
Volvo Car Corporation now launches three new child restraints, covering the range of newborn infants to children aged up to about ten. The child restraints have been thoroughly tested and meet Volvo Cars' exceedingly high demands on safety. The three child restraints are comfortable, easy to use and of a smart dark design with the Volvo iron mark on the headrest.
"With our new rearward facing child restraints, children can travel rearward facing far longer than before, something that may save many lives," says Jessika Andréasson, Product Manager at Volvo Cars.
Comfortable infant seat
The infant seat has a convenient handle and is easy to carry to and from the car. The infant seat can be used from birth until about one year (up to 13 kg). It has deep, softly padded side wings, offering high safety in side impacts. The headrest is adjustable in seven heights and the belt adopts automatically to fit the height of the child's shoulders. The child is secured using a five-point safety harness that is adjusted in the centre. The infant seat is fitted using ISOFIX attachments or the regular safety belt.
Convertible child seat rearward facing up to age six
The convertible child seat can be used longer than before, from nine months until the child is about six years old, which is a breakthrough in safety for children in cars. The convertible child seat is comfortable and cosy for the child to sit in as well as sleep in. The side wings are deep and adjustable, offering particularly good protection in side impacts and ensuring that the belt is correctly positioned across the shoulder. Centrally positioned belt adjustment means it is easy to configure for children of different height and sizes. The car's integrated safety belt is used to secure the seat, which features a neatly integrated support leg that is used for fitting in all the car's passenger seats. The child seat can be fitted facing forward when a child weighs at least 15 kg and has outgrown the rearward facing setting. It then converts into a comfortable booster seat with backrest, and both child and seat are secured with the car's integrated safety belt. Volvo Cars recommends that children travel rearward facing until at least the age of three, preferably four years or older.
Clever booster seat with backrest
For children aged between about four and ten, there is a practical booster seat with backrest that ensures correct positioning of the car's safety belt across the child's thighs and shoulder. The booster seat and child are secured facing forward using the car's integrated safety belt. The booster seat is comfortable to sit on and the deep, softly padded side wings provide maximum comfort also when the child is asleep. The headrest is adjustable and grows with the child, offering no less than eleven height settings. The booster seat's width can be adjusted to one of three settings, allowing the child to continue to sit comfortably as he or she grows.
The Volvo dealer has all the expertise
The Volvo branded child restraints are available from authorised Volvo Cars' dealers in Europe and Asia, including China, in the summer of 2009. Anyone transporting children in their cars is welcome in to try out the new child restraints. The dealers have unique expertise in the field of safety and offer thorough instructions on how the child restraints should be fitted and how the children should be properly secured.
"International accident surveys show that one of the most common causes of child injuries or fatalities in traffic is that the child restraint is not properly fitted or the child is not properly secured in the seat," relates Helena Larsson, Design Engineer at Volvo Cars.
The child restraints are supplied with all the necessary fittings such as snap hooks and other attachments to permit easier installation, as well as clear instructions on how each particular child restraint should be fitted.
Tested to meet extremely high demands
Volvo Cars works together with Britax Römer, world-renowned in child safety equipment.
"Our cooperation is a perfect synthesis whereby the manufacturer provides the expertise in the design of attractive and comfortable child seats and we add our know-how on safety for children in cars," explains Jessika Andréasson.
The three child seats feature Volvo's well-known iron mark, symbolising the highest levels of safety and quality.
"We have tested the child seats' moving parts and their mechanical properties. We have also crash tested them to verify that they meet Volvo Cars' high safety demands," says Helena Larsson.
All the fabrics used have been approved according to Oeko-Tex Standard 100, which guarantees that they are free from specified allergy-forming substances. All the covers are removable and can be machine-washed at 40 degrees Celsius.
Children should travel rearward facing for as long as possible
Volvo Cars recommends that children travel rearward facing for as long as possible, at least until the age of three or four, preferably longer. A child's neck is weak and it is still growing, and the head is proportionately larger than that of an adult. When travelling rearward facing, incoming collision forces are spread across the back and head, thus reducing the load on the neck in a frontal impact, which is the most common and often the most dangerous type of collision. For older children, it is important to continue to use a child restraint in the form of a booster seat. The booster seat protects the child's underdeveloped hips and the vulnerable abdomen by positioning the belt correctly across the thighs.
"Children should travel rearward facing for as long as possible," confirms Jessika Andréasson.
"If our new child seats result in more children travelling rearward facing for longer, then we are pleased."
- Volvo recommends that children travel rearward facing for as long as possible, preferably up to age four or more.
- Volvo Cars launches three new Volvo branded child restraints that meet exceedingly high safety demands.
- The child restraints have been developed by Britax Römer, one of the world's leading manufacturers of child restraints.
- The child restraints are available in three models for children of different ages and sizes:
1. Infant seat, from newborn up to 13 kg, up to about one year old.
2. Convertible child seat, 9-25 kg, from 9 months to about age 6. Can be turned forward facing no earlier than age 3, preferably age 4, and the child must weigh at least 15 kg.
3. Booster seat with backrest, 15-36 kg, from 4 to about 10 years, preferably longer.
- The child restraints have been thoroughly tested by Volvo Cars to guarantee safety and quality.
- Available from Volvo dealers in Europe and Asia, including China, in the summer of 2009.