Carson City, Sweden?


Photo by Clifford Atiyeh

We’ve heard of Carson City, Michigan, and even Carson City, New York. But how about Carson City, Sweden?

Carson City—located in the real town of Vårgårda, an hour from Volvo headquarters in Gothenburg—is the world’s only purpose-built simulated city for testing active safety systems. It’s run by Autoliv, a Swedish supplier that researches and manufactures safety components for nearly every car brand in the world. (Autoliv’s major clients are BMW, Mercedes, and Audi; Volvo develops most of its own systems.) Instead of choosing a Swedish name for the “town,” the company was inspired by Nevada’s state capital, particularly that city’s near-abandonment after the gold rush. (Plus, Carson City sounds a bit like the name of Autoliv’s CEO, Jan Carlson.) Indeed, entering the 0.7-mile-long strip is like stepping onto the set of an old Western film; it’s a one-block ghost town.

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