Inspired by contemporary, progressive Scandinavian lifestyle and design as well as iconic elements from the past, the elegant new Volvo Concept Coupé is the first of a series of three concept cars that reveal the design possibilities created by the company’s new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA).
After a more than a year of rising expectations, the first design by the new Senior Vice President of Design, Thomas Ingenlath, showcases how design builds emotion into the Volvo brand and points toward the next generation of Volvo models, starting with the forthcoming XC90 in 2014.
“The Volvo Concept Coupé is no futuristic dream car. It is designed to demonstrate the capability of our new architecture: the confident stance, the proportions and the most prominent design signatures. Even though the all-new XC90 is an entirely different type of car, you will recognize the connection instantly when it is revealed next year,” said Ingenlath.
Developed in-house for Volvo Cars only, the Scalable Product Architecture liberates Volvo’s designers and engineers from the limitations of previous cross-brand platforms.
“The new Volvo Concept Coupé reveals how we could shape our cars from now on. Free from the superficial surface excitement of other car brands, we add emotional value to the Volvo brand with the calm, confident beauty that is the hallmark of Scandinavian design,” says Thomas Ingenlath.
Powerful visual impact
The visual impact of the new proportions is most powerful when viewing the Volvo Concept Coupé from the side. The distance between the dashboard and the front axle is extended and the greenhouse has been moved slightly rearwards.
A low hood, roof, and the five-spoke, 21-inch wheels also contribute to the impression of an elegant Gran Tourer oozing effortless power. The confident stance is emphasized by a beltline that spans an elegant bow along the whole car.
“Think about the powerful calmness of a lion. He doesn’t have to prowl to radiate respect. Even lying down he shows very clearly what he is capable of,” smiles Ingenlath.
New T-shaped Daytime Running Lights
The face of the Volvo Concept Coupé is characterized by a new topography on the hood and the ‘floating’ grille, flanked by headlights featuring new T-shaped daytime running lights guides. Just like the rear light signature, the daytime running lights are distinctive elements in the new design direction of Volvo Cars.
“The face is new, but it also carries more than 85 years of Volvo heritage with great pride. We are still working with the final interpretation of the grille and the iron mark and this will be revealed together with the XC90 next year,” said Ingenlath.
Echoes the iconic P1800
The Concept Coupé also features elements that echo the design of the Volvo P1800 from the 1960s.
“It is a car designer’s duty to reflect and incorporate design signatures that are vital parts of the company’s heritage. The P1800 is an iconic Volvo, renowned for its beautiful forms and detailing. However, using elements from the P1800 exterior and interior has nothing to do with being retro. We are using these subtle links to a glorious past to create a future where sheer beauty becomes a recognized part of Volvo’s identity. That journey starts with Concept Coupé,” said Ingenlath.
Sparkling crystal gear-leaver
The blue-grey exterior is echoed on the inside of the Volvo Concept Coupé. Refined, handcrafted elements such as the leather instrument panel, inlays made of naturally aged wood and the dark blue woven carpets are blended with beautifully machined metal details.”
“To me, handcrafted crystal is one of the finest examples of high-quality Scandinavian design and I love the idea of bringing it into the car. The prominent position of the gear-leaver is the perfect place for this sparkling sensation,” said Robin Page, Design Director Interior at Volvo Car Group. He adds: “The experience inside Concept Coupé is an excellent example of how we will make Volvo customers feel truly special.”
Large portrait touch-screen
The concept car also includes a totally new approach to Volvo Cars’ human-centric user experience. A large portrait touch-screen in the center console interacts with an adaptive digital display and head-up display in front of the driver.
“This is a natural integration of user interfaces in our new car generation. Interaction with pleasure but without distraction is the key. We bring connectivity into our cars to make them both more enjoyable and safe,” explains Ingenlath.
The Scalable Product Architecture is also being prepared for completely autonomous driving. The first features with autonomous steering to avoid accidents and make driving more comfortable will be introduced in 2014 – and Volvo Cars’ aim is to have cars with fully autonomous technology out on the roads before 2020.
Gasoline plug-in hybrid – powerful and efficient
The gasoline plug-in hybrid driveline in the Volvo Concept Coupé reflects Volvo Cars’ strategy to use electrification to create the most powerful versions in the new four-cylinder Drive-E engine family. This will take power figures up into V8 territory.
- The concept car features a two-liter high-performance Drive-E gasoline engine with a supercharger and turbo. The petrol engine is teamed with an electric motor on the rear axle. This gives Volvo Concept Coupé a total output of around 400 hp and over 440 lb.-ft. of torque.
NEW DESIGN DIRECTION INJECTS EMOTION INTO VOLVO’S TRANSFORMATION JOURNEY
The Volvo Concept Coupé is the first expressive interpretation of a new brand direction where design has an elevated strategic importance to deliver more emotion into the Volvo brand.
“Our transformation plan includes a commitment to create a more premium vision of Volvo Cars. Releasing the emotional power of our human-centric design heritage is one of the key elements in this strategy,” said Alain Visser, Senior Vice President Marketing, Sales and Customer Service at Volvo Car Group. He adds: “A more premium image is vital to gain momentum in our journey toward an annual sales volume of 800,000 cars. It also supports our price position versus our main competitors in the premium segments.”
Building on recent success
The introduction of the Volvo V40 in 2012 was the first step in this direction. The positive media and customer feedback emphasizes that Volvo Cars is running with the best in several important areas, including design.
The upcoming introduction of the new scalable architecture enables the company to accelerate the transformation.
The Volvo Concept Coupé is the first of a series of three concept cars that demonstrate the design possibilities created by the new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA). They pave the way for the introduction of the all-new Volvo XC90 in 2014.
Technology as an enabler for emotion
The new in-house developed architecture and engine program are the enablers for a stronger emotional expression of the brand, both when it comes to the exterior design and a new approach to the interior, user interface and connectivity
“Volvo’s unique human-centric approach and the aim to inject more emotions into the car design are perfect partners. Volvo Cars’ caring, human-centric values are an integrated part of the Scandinavian culture and lifestyle. The challenge is to express this with a bolder, more distinctive design that is an all-important customer criteria for premium cars,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President Design at Volvo Car Group.
Design creates premium desirability
Truly premium brands are based on a complex mix of rational, qualitative parameters and strong emotional values that create desirability – and there are several examples of brands that have moved from mainstream to premium through a stronger focus on design.
“Case studies of brands that have made a similar journey to ours give us valuable input into the mechanisms that trigger the consumers perception of premium. This, together with our own studies of people’s views of Volvo Cars, becomes a valuable base for our design development,” said Visser.
Rational properties with added emotional value
The emotional aspect is also important when shaping the future of properties that are established Volvo territory among consumers:
- Focus on safety has moved from offering protection in worst-case scenarios to creating features that support the driver and enhance the user experience.
- Modern environmental care is able to combine low emissions and reduced fuel consumption with an enhanced driving experience – for instance though ingenious plug-in hybrid technology.
- The classic functionality has moved beyond being practical. Volvo Cars’ approach is to create human-centric features that actually make today’s hectic life easier for the user.
“Reliable functionality has always been a non-compromise prerequisite for Scandinavian designers. Up here, designs have to deal with a harsh reality that demands meticulous attention to detail and quality,” said Ingenlath. He concludes: “Combining this with a distinctive design language that is inspired by this unique Scandinavian environment will give us a competitive edge that no one of our competitors can match. You could say that we will continue to do what Volvo always has done. We will just do it much better and make it much more emotional.”