Volvo: Your Concept Car (YCC)
Your Concept Car – by women for modern people
The idea of an all-woman team making all the decisions in the development of a new concept car arose at Volvo in the autumn of 2001. Visiting Volvo at the time for a series of workshops was Marti Barletta, an American expert on female consumer patterns. She claimed: “If you meet the expectations of women, you exceed the expectations of men”.
In June 2002, Camilla Palmertz and a small group of colleagues were invited to present their idea to Hans-Olov Olsson, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation. He greeted it with enthusiasm.
A key ambition in developing the YCC was to ensure that the driver, regardless of height, would be able to sit correctly when driving and have the right line of vision too. The result was Ergovision (patent pending) – ergonomics and optimum line of vision in one system.
Inside the car, she has echoed the flowing lines of the exterior styling. The instrument panel is S-shaped, adding to the sense of space and air in the cabin.
And to reinforce the floating, hovering impression the exterior gives, with its colour-change paint and the lift of its gull-wing doors, the front seat mountings have been moved inwards, out of sight. The seats look as though they are hovering above the floor.
Elegance is built into other interior features too. The ambient lighting follows the lines of the car at the side, the ventilation is concealed and the roof lining between the glazed moon roof is a shimmering star ceiling produced through a unique material made by fibre optics.
The YCC is packed with smart technology, but the technology has not been allowed to complicate matters for the driver.
The YCC has storage options in new places. Moving the gear levers up by the steering wheel and making the electronic parking brake automatic has freed up all the space between the front seats. An ideal place for keeping things you might want on the journey. Drivers should not have to worry about things like mobiles ringing or where to find some small change in a hurry. Here there are both shallow compartments and deep ones, with room for things like your notebook computer, handbag, parking money, drinks, keys, CDs and mobile phone.
And the main function of the rear seat is not that of carrying passengers – it is for carrying things, because that is what the target group mostly use it for. Here there is all the room you want for briefcases, carrier bags and bags full of sports gear. The rear seat is actually two separate fold-down seats. They are rather like cinema seats, so they spring back up when not in use – to make even more space for storage. And the compartment on the back of the front seat is actually a removable compact briefcase. The boot is big enough for a set of golf clubs.
Spaciousness and light are the key impressions conveyed by the interior. Sitting in the YCC, you get a strong sense of being in a living room. The colour and trim is strongly influenced by home interior design.
“Let’s bring the living room into the car. Let’s use materials we have in the home – honest materials, not obscured by coats of shiny enamel,” was the way Maria Uggla, the designer responsible for Colour and Trim, felt about it.
The YCC is exceptionally light in the inside, rather like a modern living room with big windows and skylights. Scandinavian light was the real inspiration. Here the interior surface materials set the tone and the light spectrum. Specially selected to avoid weighing down the interior in any way, they reinforce and amplify the space within the car. All the horizontal surfaces are of laminated bleached oak, augmented by all functional surfaces in brushed aluminium.
Another innovation is the use of pale plastic sheeting behind a transparent layer in places like the centre of the instrument panel – plastic used to real advantage. The speaker grilles combine white and silver in a random pattern. The side panels, doors and rear seats have been tied together through a light eggshell colour.
Just as light-coloured walls in a living room focus attention on the furniture, all the pale surfaces in the YCC mean your eye is caught at once by the seats and carpets. This is where the real scope for individuality comes into play – the chance to alter your car interior according to trends, personal taste or style. A range of eight seat pad options with matching carpets means that you can decorate your car to match your personal taste.
Swapping them over is quick and easy and they are easy to care for. Some are machine washable, others dry clean only. A range so wide that everyone can find a personal favourite. The options are:
All the materials would work equally well in a living room. Many of them have never before been used in cars. Each seat top option has its own label, reinforcing the link with home interiors.
(8 March 2004)
photos: Volvo Car Corp./Automotive Intelligence