Press release - 2016-11-16

Loving seatbelt veteran awarded Polhem Prize 2016

His love for his wife led him in the 1950s to develop seatbelts, found the company Autoliv and save millions of lives. On Tuesday, Lennart Lindblad, 86 years old and still active, received the prestigious Polhem Prize from the Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers for his lifetime of service to the improvement of vehicle safety.

The realisation of a zero traffic death vision requires a lot from technology. Motorists lived for many decades without any safety considerations at all. Seat belts were unheard of and once they did arrive, they were seriously flawed. Lennart Lindblad realised that this was an area of ​​great potential for improvement in order to reduce human suffering.

"The journey from first production at his home in Vårgårda to today's global companies is unparalleled in modern Swedish industrial history," says the Jury in their motivation for this decision.

Lennart Lindblad has developed and refined the seatbelt, especially the three-point belt which became standard. It all began as act of love for his pregnant wife Birgit.

“We were out for a drive when a serious traffic accident happened nearby, and I felt that I had to find something that would mean she would sit more securely in the car. When I saw an ad for a seatbelt that could be retrofitted, I ordered it immediately. When it arrived, I realised that the quality was so poor and that it would not help in the slightest if we were in a collision. Then I began to wonder if I could make my own.”

Another example of his ingenuity is a mechanism that counteracts whiplash injuries that is fitted into the backs of the seats in 25 million Volvo cars.

Altogether, Lennart Lindblad holds a good few hundred patents, primarily within the vehicle safety field but also other areas. In 1953, together with his brother Stig, he founded Autoservice AB, which later became Autoliv. Today, the Group is a leading global safety technology company whose products save thousands of lives every year.

Now Lennart Lindblad has been awarded the Polhem Prize, Sweden's oldest and most prestigious technology award, for his lifetime of service to the improvement of vehicle safety. The Prize, a gold medal and SEK 250 000, was awarded by the Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers at the grand Polhem Awards Dinner in Stockholm on Tuesday evening.

Lennart Lindblad is 86, lives in Vårgårda and is still developing safety technologies, right now he is working on a system of automatic tensioning for truck straps.

Quick Facts Polhem Prize
Instituted in 1876 in memory of the great Swedish inventor Christopher Polhem (1661-1751). In addition to the honour, the prize consists of the Polhem Gold Medal, plus SEK 250 000.
Awarded by the Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers for high-level technological innovation or an ingenious solution to a technical problem. Must be sustainably environmentally friendly.
Previous winners include Baltzar von Platen and Carl Munthers for the refrigerator (1925), Ove Fernö for the nicotine delivery chewing gum Nicorette (1987), Håkan Lans for GPS (1995), Laila Ohlgren for the "green button" on mobile phones (2009), Petra Wadström for the Solvatten water purifier (2013), John Elvesjö and Marten Skogö for the Tobii Eyetracker that enables the eyes to control a computer (2015).

For more information:
Lennart Lindblad, Polhem Prize winner, +46 322 620 846
Johan Sittenfeld, Secretary, Polhem Prize Committee, +46 70 653 8205
Lasse Årling, Press Secretary, +46 70 329 8008