For Volvo, safety is their cornerstone attribute and Volvo child safety is no different than it would be for any other person in the car. With their new patent for a “Child Seat Module“, they have gone all-in for child safety and practicality for parents.
Quick rundown: In Europe (maybe elsewhere, but I can’t speak with certainty), child seats are rated as Group 0 & 1 with weight limits of 10 & 18kg respectively, and Group 2 & 3 for weights from 15 and 22kg upwards respectively. So, your small baby carrier type is a Group 0 which should hold your child up to about 9 months old and Group 1 might cover you to up to 4 years old. Until your child is over 36kg or 1.25m tall or 12 years old (very specific, I know), they need to at least be in a Group 3 booster seat.
Volvo rightly states “it may be perceived as cumbersome to place the child in the child seat and buckle up the child due to the limited space”. I think a lot of parents have had this issue, but this can be remedied with swivelling car seats (albeit with a large base unit) or a larger vehicle.
They also point out “the passenger seat and the child seat arranged upon it are taking up space in the passenger compartment that cannot be used for something else”. But they do not elaborate exactly on what else you would need to do in the space taken up by the car seat.
VW currently has a clever integrated child seat/booster which would fall into the Group 2/3 categories, with a pop-up base and alternative headrest with side bolsters. So they already have larger kids covered. I haven’t checked but I wouldn’t be surprised if they have patented that.
I question the practicality of the Volvo solution. There are some queries I would have relating to its real-world practicality:
- You need a Volvo with seat rails in the floor with removable seats. Do any current Volvos have seat rails? I have only seen them in MPVs of Van-Derived People Movers like the VW Multivan or Ford Tourneo Custom
- Given the size of the seat, you will likely have limited use of this seat, maybe as little as a year depending on the growth rate of your child. Seems a lot easier to sell on your removable ISOFIX car seat than your “Volvo with seat rails-specific” child seat module
- Would you specify this from the factory, so have one less seat in your Volvo? Or if this is an added option, where do you keep the passenger seat when you are using the child seat?
Having said that, it is a cool idea and plays to the safety heritage of Volvo. Just not sure that it quite fulfils a market need in the way they might hope. And having seen the VW solution in person, sometimes the cleverness of the engineered solution is more appealing and that often trumps financial prudence. Child safety is ultimately more important than any price tag.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!