Some of the safety technologies in Volvo's new XC90 sport wagon will eventually be used in other Ford group vehicles.
The XC90 doesn't go on sale until next spring in Europe.
But Volvo is already promoting the anti-rollover technology and extra high-strength steel used in the vehicle's body structure. Volvo says the features will make the XC90 safer for passengers and occupants of other vehicles in a crash.
But other Ford brands that want to use the technologies must wait until their products are shared with Volvos on common platforms, said Stefan Nilson, director of Volvo's Safety Center.
'We need a new platform for full sharing and to get the higher volumes to defray the costs of some technologies,' Nilson said.
Volvo has been designated as Ford's center of excellence for safety development. Ford hopes to use its Swedish automaker's reputation for industry-leading safety to cast a halo over other Ford brands.
Safety will play a key role in marketing the XC90, which Volvo will call a sport-utility (see story below).
Some elements of the XC90 anti-rollover system are scheduled for the Ford Explorer and other Ford sport-utilities within two years. The Explorer will use a roll-angle sensor and side-curtain airbags, but those airbags will cover only the first and second rows of seats, even though a third-row seat is an option.
Volvo and parent Ford worked to develop the system.
But all XC90 technologies will not be extended to other vehicles, Nilson said.
'We used the [high-strength] boron steel for the XC90 because this was needed for large sport-utilities,' he said. 'But we may not need those things for other vehicles. Front-end crash [protection] is more important for smaller vehicles.'
Volvo is working on a small-car platform to replace the current 40 series and it likely will be shared with other Ford brands. It will incorporate front-end structural advances made for the XC90. The XC90 is 90mm taller than the Volvo XC70 Cross Country, but the front-end side rails were designed so they match up with the front bumper of other cars.
Nilson said engineers from the safety center are already working at Ford's vehicle development departments in Dearborn, Michigan, USA, and engineers from Dearborn have been working in Gothenburg.
Nilson said: 'I've been quite surprised at how good the dialogue has been between the engineers from the different companies.'
Volvo expects to sell about 6,000 units of the XC90 in the USA and Canada by year end. Full-year production of the wagon is expected to be around 50,000 units, with North America getting up to 70 percent of them.
Volvo hasn't announced prices, but did say a well-equipped XC90 with leather seats and a sunroof will be just under $40,000 (42,500) in the USA.