Volvo’s slick new EV idea is like an Ikea on wheels

Electrical automobiles are right here, and extra are coming—a undeniable fact that has sparked competitors not seen within the auto trade for many years. Some producers are centered on attaining the most effective general vary, whereas others wish to squeeze each drop of efficiency from their shiny new electrical powertrains. After which there’s Volvo, which has as an alternative determined to give attention to the general consolation issue of driving, and is working to create an expertise that makes being within the automobile really feel as should you’re nonetheless in your lounge.

On June 30, the Swedish automaker held a stay occasion in its hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden to showcase its upcoming engineering marvels. Dubbed Volvo’s first-ever “Tech Second,” the automaker used the time to indicate how its design rules and give attention to security would form new automobiles.

Presently, Volvo has just one fully-electric automobile on the highway in the USA: the XC40 Recharge. Quickly it would add the C40 Recharge crossover to its portfolio as nicely. Within the meantime, the one different battery-electric choice comes from Volvo’s spin-off model, Polestar, which affords the Polestar 2, a premium sedan constructed on the identical shared Compact Modular Structure because the XC40. (Hybrids are a unique story. Volvo affords seven complete plug-in hybrid autos, bridging the hole between gasoline and pure electrical.)

To point out off its new tech in a single place, Volvo put collectively a automobile it calls the “Idea Recharge” which it hails because the “manifesto for the subsequent technology of all-electric Volvos.”

Its glossy and trendy SUV-sized physique is intentionally minimalistic, that includes giant areas of formed steel with using neatly creased corners and sparse physique strains to interrupt up the monotony. A excessive seating place with sloping hood and reshaped roof is chosen for optimum visibility on the highway with out compromising on vary.

Is that Thor’s Hammer, or is it a headlight? Volvo

Whereas onlookers can spend all day gawking on the SUV’s glossy exterior (and people magnificent “Thor’s Hammer” headlights—sure, that’s truly what Volvo calls them), the true magic begins with the brand new electrical powertrain.

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Volvo’s upcoming second-generation EV platform utterly rethinks how Volvo builds electrical automobiles, beginning with the engineering of its battery packs. General power density is elevated by as much as 50 % in comparison with the battery tech present in its autos on the highway as we speak, permitting for considerably extra vary per cost, and lowering the time spent plugged-in by practically half.

As an additional advantage, the redesigned pack allowed engineers to increase the automobile’s wheelbase, reduce overhang previous the entrance and rear wheels, in addition to flatten its flooring—which means that the brand new powertrain is partly to thank for the sheer utility of the Idea Recharge’s ultra-spacious inside.

Previous to the Tech Second presentation, Volvo had already dedicated to turning into an all-electric model. The automaker says that by 2030 its total fleet will probably be electrified due to its latest partnership with Swedish battery producer, Northvolt.

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Volvo describes its future cockpit as a “Scandinavian lounge.” Minimalistic design parts may make it really feel like sitting within an Ikea on wheels, however the true purpose is to embrace a sense of serenity whereas in movement—such as you by no means left the consolation of your personal dwelling.

The stark inside can also be designed to advertise distraction-free driving. Flowing strains and wise controls assist focus the driving force’s consideration on the highway. Even the format of the infotainment system and new digital gauge cluster comply with the identical intuitive philosophy, offering a setup that focuses on what the driving force must see at any given second: navigation, surrounding visitors, just lately used controls, and extra.

Volvo’s sleek electric car concept has big Ikea vibes
The doorways on this idea open from the middle. Volvo

The lounge really feel will probably be accentuated by the inclusion of what Volvo describes as “unsupervised driving.”

Security has all the time been a prime precedence for Volvo. Actually, it was Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin that first invented the three-point seat belt in 1959— it was such an vital development in automobile security that Volvo opened the patent for any automaker to make use of in its autos. Now, greater than 60 years later, security continues to be Volvo’s lodestar, however as an alternative of utilizing seatbelts and airbags to cut back fatalities, the main focus has shifted to utilizing know-how as a software within the final purpose of an accident-free future.

Through the use of a roof-mounted Gentle Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) unit together with the automobile’s suite of data-gathering sensors, Volvo claims its future autos will enable for partial automation that extends previous the standard lane-centering and different cruise-control-type options seen in most trendy autos as we speak. The automaker’s engineers attest that drivers will ultimately be capable of take their fingers and eyes off the highway, letting the automobile drive itself—underneath sure situations, that’s. Volvo says its rollout of this characteristic will probably be gradual and regular, starting with restricted highways signed-off by the workforce constructing out the tech.

It’s value noting that different automakers have made comparable pledges as nicely. Tesla is maybe probably the most notable of the bunch, with its eventual promise of Full Self-Driving, although its strategy controversially makes use of vision-based autonomy as an alternative of together with different sensors, like LiDAR. Both approach, don’t count on any new automobile to hop on the freeway and drive itself anytime quickly. 

[RELATED: How Tesla is using a supercomputer to train its self-driving tech]

Volvo plans to start regularly rolling out a few of its new options all through the last decade, starting with the inclusion of its autonomy {hardware} suite within the upcoming 2022 Volvo XC90 flagship SUV. Nonetheless, precisely how a lot of its futuristic imaginative and prescient will make it to manufacturing is anyone’s guess.

For instance, the LiDAR {hardware} from the XC90 will trickle all the way down to all of its future autos as commonplace tools, however it doesn’t imply that the rollout of unsupervised driving will probably be quick, free, and even and not using a hitch. Plus, sure different design parts of the idea (just like the center-opening coach doorways, which have traditionally been referred to as “suicide doorways,” for instance) really feel like a fever dream at greatest given Volvo’s dedication to security.

Even so, Volvo has all the time been an automaker that exams the boundaries of design, particularly within the automobile. The corporate is extraordinarily pleased with its wealthy design heritage, and has dedicated to utterly redesigning the consumer expertise throughout the cabin. 

Whereas the precise design of every automobile will probably be distinctive and tailor-made to its clients, it’s fairly clear that Volvo is aiming to make your entire driving expertise simply as pleasing as sitting in your favourite recliner and watching a film—and perhaps when unsupervised driving is offered, you truly will.


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