By on March 20, 2020

Volvo is recalling every vehicle sold in the United States from the 2020 and 2019 model year. It turns out the automaker with the reputation for placing extra emphasis on safety has some bunk safety equipment. During tests late last year, the Federation of Danish Motorists noticed the automatic emergency braking (AEB) system in a Volvo XC60 consistently failed to operate as intended — smacking itself into numerous test dummies and automobiles.

After an internal investigation, Volvo Cars issued a global recall encompassing roughly 736,000 units on March 13th. Since the manufacturer has made the feature standard equipment on all vehicles, every single model produced by the automaker since January 21st, 2019 needs to be recalled.

While that’s clearly a massive oversight on the part of Volvo, it’s hard to get too upset with the brand. Advanced driving aids have a habit of underperforming. Last fall we published a study from AAA that showed emergency braking systems on some modern cars were only slightly more effective than shutting your eyes and hoping a pedestrian jumps out of the way before they’re killed. While our own testing has been less rigorous, this author can attest to countless instances of advanced driving aids misbehaving or simply deactivating in inclement weather.

For Volvo, the good news is that this doesn’t necessarily pose any additional safety risks (unless you’re relying on AEB as your first line of defense). Volvo products still drive like a normal car, just one without the ability to prevent a collision on its own — though we’d argue no car is actually capable of such a feat with any consistency.

The bad news is that this a giant stain on Volvo’s safety record and makes the brand look inept. Remember the fatal incident from 2018 involving an autonomous XC90 owned by Uber? Volvo said the woman that was killed may still be alive had the firm not tampered with the automatic emergency braking system all XC90s come equipped with. Granted, that vehicle was built before the recall but the company placed the onus entirely on Uber, saying it would never allow such a failure within its own safety systems.

The recall covers 121,605 vehicles in the United States. If you purchased any Volvo model from the 2019 or 2020 model year, your vehicle is affected and requires a software update. Volvo plans to issue notices to customers starting in May.

[Image: Volvo]

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27 Comments on “Volvo Recalls Every Model Assembled Since the Start of 2019...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This from the company that boldly stated it would assume all liability for AV accidents in the future, with no deaths. What a crock that was.

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/10/volvo-will-accept-liability-if-their-autonomous-cars-crash/

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/10/volvo-will-accept-liability-if-their-autonomous-cars-crash/#comment-6561938

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      The irony is quite amusing.

    • 0 avatar
      Deontologist

      I don’t see where Volvo is shirking from responsibility here. First, there are no deaths. Second, they’re recalling every car from 2019 and 2020. How does this have anything to do with the claim they made earlier?

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        Yeah, I don’t get the knives out moment for Volvo either. They screwed up and luckily the screw up didn’t cause any deaths. They deserve the raised eyebrow, but for now, that’s it.

        Those overly complicated T6/T8 powertrains though…. I have no doubt many will have words for Volvo regarding long term durability of such complicated engines.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    You know….perhaps they should go back a bit farther than 2019 for this recall.

    Does anyone else remember when their public demo of this system failed miserably …back in 2015?

    https://www.motortrend.com/news/demo-fails-as-a-volvo-xc60-doesnt-stop-for-pedestrian-wvideo/

    • 0 avatar
      maxriptin

      I can see in the image, and it is stated in the article itself that the Volvo used for this “demonstration” wasn’t equipped with pedestrian detection. The fail is on the people, not the car (in this case).

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      I remember when the automatic braking on our first-gen XC60 actually saved me from a low speed impact several years ago.

      Car in front started to pull away from the light on an uphill, and then basically took their foot off the gas and came to a stop. No brake lights, and it wasn’t a slow stop.

      My foot was on its way to the brake when the system had already kicked in.

      System did its job, and let me tell you: when the emergency braking activates, you really notice it.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Wasnt Subaru the BEST in the Car & Driver test last year?
    And their system didnt have radar or sonar or what ever?
    Tried and true stuff works. Let s not reinvent everything.

  • avatar

    Yes but Tesla sucks and GM and Ford are making crap.

    I can imagine the overwhelming amount of (negative) comments if it was one of American companies.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Or to frame it in terms relevant to certain other current events:

      “Chinese car companies are clearly leading the way on safety here. They are recalling all of these vehicles and repairing them. Other countries’ auto industry have much to learn by watching how Volvo handles this”

      What a load of sheeeite

      • 0 avatar

        Chinese are role model for us. They are always proactive. Take for example how they handled Volvo cars or China virus.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Deep thoughts. They are also leading in concentration camps for religious and ethnic minorities, imprisonment and torture of political dissidents and involuntary organ donation by the incarcerated. Still though, you have a great point about how they handled Volvo.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Oh it was sarc @theelaine. I firmly am simply pointing out how China is being allowed to rewrite history here. At the end of the day, corruption in their own government allowed for an unsafe food supply which allowed a virus to pass to humans that made the planet sick.

            They are rotten, like all Communist dictatorships. And we allowed them to do this because they work for cheap.

            Meanwhile we look at them and say “look, we should be like them” and blame our own government.

            I hope good comes out of it though in the form of Western businesses diversifying out of China and I’d love it if the rest of the world got together and stopped paying to service Chinese held debt and put that towards the cleanup.

            I’m also sick of the “it’s part of their culture” BS. I don’t care. It’s the 21st century. You want to be a part of modern society you get rid of your culture’s crappy aspects and try to be better.

          • 0 avatar

            Wait until Bernie bros take over. You will get re-education camps here too to re-educate politically incorrect deplorables and retards. Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Art, I was responding to Inside. I was not lame enough to miss your sarcasm, I was lame enough to miss his….

            I need to use names more, since this comment system is awkward.

  • avatar
    C5 is Alive

    #ChinaVolvo

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Volvo sold 736,000 cars?

  • avatar
    JonKessler

    I get the China jab, but Volvo appears to be consistently trying to do the right thing. Seeing all of its gizmos, I reluctantly bought the 2019 PHEV xc60 because spouse wanted a plug in CUV. With recall, dealer will come get the car and take care of it given COVID. Mistakes and poor judgement happen. It’s the response that tells you what people are made of.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    My work associate likes them because of the design. He bought one for his wife two years ago. It has been in the shop damn near as often as it has been on the road. The warranty has been honored, but he is done. He is selling it and heading to the Toyota dealer.

    • 0 avatar

      Do they give the loaner? If yes then why worry. My understanding in owning Euro car is that you have to get rid of it right after warranty expires. But otherwise it is okay.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        It is still a pain in the ass, ILO. Not worth it, loaner or not. Time is precious and dealerships don’t value yours.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          @ thelaine, can confirm. I’m still rockin’ my 07 BMW wagon, and just had the third airbag recall done. Credit to them for following up, as I didn’t realize I needed it done again, but man, that combined with the oil leaks…. it’s just a bit much already.

          It’s the last BMW I’ll own. They don’t take customer complaints seriously and blow off their own, stupid engineering decisions when it hurts the customer.

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      We haven’t had any issues in 30k miles, except for some tire foam coming loose — basically, that’s a Continental problem, not a Volvo one.

      Meanwhile, I’d never visit a Toyota dealer unless I wanted to deal with a bunch of obnoxious add-ons such as GPS Tracking, and Premium Protection Package, and nitrogen tire fill fee nonsense added on.

      Seriously, Toyota, Honda and Lexus dealers are literally the worst for those things. It’s as if whatever vehicles are the default “I just want what everyone buys” vehicles end up having dealers that put all this stupid nonsense on them. There’s nothing like visiting a Lexus dealer, and seeing them have a charge for custom pin-striping that has been added to the vehicle.

  • avatar
    johnnyz

    Long-term liability.

    No wonder so many automakers are getting out of the cheap car business. They’re barely used to ever be recalls, now they go back to and in some cases 5+ years.

    Takata goes bankrupt and the manufacturer ends up holding the bag for a new expensive bag.

    Lawsuits liability litigation inflation and bailouts. Welcome to the new millenia.

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