Drop tests are typically something we see YouTubers perform on the latest iPhone or Android smartphone. Not cars. Volvo does things a little differently than most, though. Still, we’re just as astonished as you to see Volvo dropping 10 cars from about 100 feet up in the air. To do so, Volvo required the use of a tall crane that could dangle its various vehicles high above the ground. Check it all out in the video above.
Now, you may be wondering, why? Volvo has a good answer. For one, this kind of test is dramatically more severe and extreme than anything Volvo can simulate in ordinary crash testing. Volvo says it re-creates the kind of impact you might see in the most extreme of crashes, such as when a car hits a semi-truck at high speed or takes a severe impact on its side. In these kinds of accidents, there’s a much higher likelihood that the occupants will be critically injured.
That brings us to our second big point. Volvo performed the tests hand-in-hand with Swedish rescue services. These kinds of high-impact accidents will very likely require extrication specialists to use hydraulic rescue tools (i.e. the Jaws of Life) to extract trauma victims as quickly as possible and get them to a hospital within an hour — the "Golden Hour" that's crucial to survival. Immediately after the drops, the rescue workers went to town on the cars, gathering vast amounts of data and learning along the way. This will help Volvo develop safer cars and also help rescue workers develop better, quicker ways to extricate people.
Volvo says that rescue workers typically only get to experiment on cars in this condition that are much older and sitting in junkyards. However, those vehicles aren’t representative of new cars' modern structures, which have hugely different steel strength, safety cage construction and overall durability.
All of the findings from the drops and the extrication work will be collected in a report that will be offered for free to rescue workers everywhere, Volvo says.
Volvo doesn’t go into detail about how its various models performed in these crash tests, but the video and photos speak for themselves. A drop from such a height will cause massive damage to any car. And obviously, there’s nothing else we can compare it to.
The drop test is a crash test we’d be especially fearful to witness if done to the most recent zero-star crash test recipient, the Maruti-Suzuki S-Presso. That one was bad enough at ground level.