LOS ANGELES -- Volvo, whose name has become almost synonymous with automotive safety, is finding it harder to keep that halo to itself.
Safety features once found only in premium vehicles have spread throughout the industry. The $31,000 Volvo S60 offers six airbags, ABS and a smart restraint system -- but so does an $11,000 Kia Rio.
And Japanese and German luxury brands have begun offering many high-tech safety advances absent from Volvo vehicles.
Fredrik Arp, CEO of Volvo Car Corp., said the automaker will continue to "defend the position" of making standard the safety features that other automakers list as options.
"We want to combine safety with design," Arp said in an interview at the Tokyo Motor Show in October. "We can sell safety as the backbone of the car, and also that it is a nice car. Everyone else is trying to get to where we are."
But Arp and other Volvo executives say it's getting harder to market safety because newer systems are more likely to be a software program than something visible.
"If the system is not visible in action, and is only indicated by a small lamp on the instrument panel, only the smart buyers will understand how important it is," Arp said.