Auto Electronics

Under the Hood of the Volvo C30

With the production version of the Volvo C30 first appearing in September at the Paris Motor Show, only months after the C30 design concept that was unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show, engineers had limited time to complete the design and it had to be done right the first time. Presented as a 2007 model, Volvo intends to sell the new model in Europe and is evaluating selling the new sporty four-door hatchback in the U.S. market. In the C30, a turbocharged in-line five-cylinder engine delivers 236-pound-feet of torque and 218 horsepower to the front wheels. The vehicle measures only 167 inches in length, 8.5 inches shorter than the Volvo S40 sports sedan but uses the same 103.9 wheelbase.

While the vehicle's full list of features is still sketchy, electronics in the vehicle include high-end safety and entertainment systems. In the safety area, a blind-spot information system (BLIS) helps identify a vehicle that may or may not be in the driver's view at the rear sides of the car. Other standard safety features include airbags and safety belt pretensioners, the whiplash protection system (WHIPS), a side impact protection system with side airbags, and the inflatable curtain (IC).

If the standard 160 W stereo system is not enough, a 650 W premium system has a digital 5 x 130 W power amplifier from Alpine, Dolby Pro Logic II Surround and 10 loud-speakers from Danish loudspeaker manufacturer Dynaudio. Volvo uses media-oriented systems transport (MOST) fiber-optic network in existing platforms, so it could be part of the network in the C30.

Since a Volvo spin-out company, Volcano Communications Technology (VCT), developed the local interconnect network (LIN), a low-speed multiplex communications protocol based on the company's Volcano-Lite technology, it has been used in Volvo's large platform XC90, S80, S/V/XC70, and S60 series, as well as small platform S40 and V50. Now part of Mentor Graphics, VCT's tool set, called Volcano, uses a central signal database containing information on system functions and network structure for CAN, LIN, MOST and FlexRay. After capturing the electronic architecture functions, a frame compiler interprets the database contents and calculates the frame requirements for the entire vehicle. The frame compiler reduces the complexity of messaging on the CAN bus by packing different signals together. Without a design tool to perform these tasks, the overall vehicle structure is too complex and the interactivity of the dependencies is too difficult to analyze.

However, Volcano is only one of the design tools used by Volvo. Based on the success of using Synopsys' Saber Harness integrated with CATIA from Dassault Systèmes on the XC90 model and other platforms, Volvo evaluated the integration between Saber Harness and CATIA V5 and plans on using the new version for new platforms, such as the C30. CATIA is used for the physical design of the wire harness.

With the ability to create, characterize, simulate and analyze the electrical behavior of the entire vehicle's wire harness in Saber Harness, engineers can thoroughly evaluate system performance. By analyzing variations and options, system conflicts and redundancies are eliminated prior to the actual physical design in CATIA. Rather than users combining different tools, the close collaboration of Synopsys and Dassault Systèmes on the tool set usage improved time to production as well as reducing manufacturing cost. Sören Börnstedt, principal system engineer at Volvo Car Corporation said, “Saber Harness and the mechanical integration allow us to shorten our lead times and cut costs in our future platform designs.”

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