It’s probably a PR person’s worst nightmare – having something going completely wrong at a press event. And that’s exactly what happened to Volvo at the media presentation of the firm’s new S60 saloon in Sweden almost three years ago.
Volvo wanted to show journalists how the 2011 S60 sedan’s new ‘Collision Warning with Auto Brake’ system works, so they catapulted a test car out of a tunnel at around 35km/h towards a parked truck.
Volvo’s new Collision Warning with Auto Brake was supposed to automatically brake the S60 if there is an imminent risk of a collision with a moving or stationary vehicle. The system starts by alerting the driver and preparing the braking system for emergency braking. If the driver does not respond despite the warning, the brakes are applied automatically.
When the car was catapulted at the truck, the system didn’t work and the 2011 S60 smashed into the rear-end of the truck in front of the eyes of dozens of journalists equipped with video cameras. The good news was, Volvo had not used a person to drive the car, so no one was hurt.
Some journalists were quick to point out that the system had worked earlier stopping the car before it hit the truck. Volvo claimed that the pre-production test car “suffered as the result of a human error in preparation” and that the car’s battery was at fault, adding that “had a human been driving, he or she would have noticed the system was not operating correctly.”