Driving Today

Volvo’s Concept You: Asian Influence

Now owned by the Chinese, Volvo unveils a new concept car with an Asian motif.

If you wondered how quickly Volvo’s Chinese ownership would influence the company’s “Scandinavian design” policy, you needn’t wonder anymore. The Concept You, which was introduced at the ongoing Frankfurt motor show, is heavily influenced by the desires of Shanghai auto show-goers who viewed the previous Volvo show car, Concept Universe. The result is a car that looks like no Volvo you have ever seen before -- and, depending where you stand, that can be a good (or bad) thing.

The Concept You is a four-door that offers a sleek coupe-like exterior silhouette, something that is in vogue among the upscale European carmakers, and it combines it with a luxurious, high-tech interior that uses smart-pad technology. We’re not sure how Nils Bohlin, the inventor of the three-point seatbelt, would feel about the concept’s rear-hinged “suicide-style” doors, but he might appreciate the wide, inviting opening they offer passengers. The roofline stretches all the way back to the tail lamps.

“The Concept You explores new territories in our search for the ultimate intuitive car that makes the owners’ manual a thing of the past,” says Peter Horbury, vice president of design at the Volvo Car Corp. “Smartphones and smart pads have brought mobile infotainment into a new era. Here, we use a number of touch screens to replace buttons and controls in order to make the driver totally connected, totally in control. The technology also helps us to create a refreshingly uncluttered interior.”

The car’s control center consists of four main areas: a digital Driver Information Monitor, a head-up display on the windscreen, a touch screen in the upper part of the center console, and a touch screen between the two individual rear seats. The wood/leather steering wheel has aluminum and glass paddles with integrated touch screens too. Obviously, you have to watch what you’re touching when you’re driving the new car. And even if you don’t, the car will watch you. A hidden infrared camera registers driver’s eye movements, and information is displayed on the touch screen in the upper part of the center console only when he or she looks at it.

As of now, the engine and drivetrain of the Concept You is uncertain, but it could use a combination of the new Volvo family of four-cylinder engines assisted by flywheel technology. Long a proponent of five-cylinder engines, Volvo is now shifting its attention to four cylinders, which it claims “is the perfect way to quickly reduce C02 emissions and fuel consumption, without compromising customer expectations on driving pleasure and performance,” according to development head Peter Mertens. Volvo is also deep into testing flywheel energy recovery that is an alternative to electric hybrids.



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