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Aluminium cargo rail

Aluminium cargo rail

Volvo Cars and Sapa spent over three years brainstorming ideas. The result: an aluminium cargo rail with unique functions

Volvo cargo railThe development work has been going on since 2004. The new cargo rail (known to insiders simply as “the rail”) is part of Volvo’s efforts to make its cars safer. But it’s also a result of new regulations under din (Deutsche Industrienorm), which require all car manufacturers to equip their vehicles with fastening points capable of securing a minimum amount of cargo.

The solution developed by Volvo, with Sapa as an active development partner, replaces the steel rings on previous models of the v70 and xc70. What makes the solution unique is that the four hooks in the floor rails can be moved anywhere along the rails, and they can be folded flush with the floor when not in use to avoid damaging cargo as it is pushed in along the floor.

“It was a real challenge to design hooks that were free enough to move, but didn’t move when they weren’t supposed to. They also had to be locked in the raised position,” says Håkan Muhr, key account manager at Sapa Automotive. The aluminium rail also eliminates the need for brackets, since the entire floor of the cargo space rests on a flange protruding from the rail. What’s more, the side panels are inserted into another flange on the cargo rail, making use of the aluminium profile’s capacity for integrating various functions in the profile’s cross-section.”

The system also includes fastening hooks in the panels under the side windows. “This allows the option of securing the load three-dimensionally, something that no other car manufacturer can offer,” says Carin Stenmark, project manager at Volvo Cars.

The new models of the v70 and xc70 will hit the market this autumn, and Sapa will supply 200,000 cargo rails annually, consisting of extruded profiles and mounted accessories. “Volvo has classified the cargo securing system as a unique sales factor. This means that the system offers customers added value and thus helps sell the car,” says Stenmark.

She reports that the collaboration between the companies worked well, and that they found ways of working both faster and more efficiently during the course of the project. “Volvo is in charge of the design, but we solved both big and small problems together,” she says. “Sapa contributed invaluable expertise and know-how.” Volvo will also be offering accessories such as mesh dividers and sliding cargo floors for the new cargo securing system.