Automotive intelligence: Pt 2
In the previous edition of I Roll, we focused on a pivotal Volvo concept vehicle from every decade from the 1970s through to the 1990s. Here, we look at another group of crucial show cars that presented further visions in the areas of safety and electrification that would become reality – as well as the company’s latest concepts that preview all-new Volvos that will redefine the premium small-car segment…
2001 Safety Concept Car
If Volvo’s 1972 Experimental Safety Car had been focused primarily on passive safety, 2001’s SCC was notable for demonstrating the potential of new vehicle sensors and smaller yet more powerful computers to preview a multitude of pioneering driver aids. About 15 of the SCC’s advanced technological features transferred to some or all the company’s future models. They included: headlights that could follow the curvature of the road as the car turns (today known as Active Bending Lights); side-mirror sensors and rearward-facing cameras that could monitor for approaching traffic in adjacent lanes (Blind Spot Information System); a forward-facing camera that could monitor the vehicle’s position on the road and alert the driver if there was potential to veer off course (Lane Departure Warning and Driver Alert); windscreen-projected information (Head-up Display); a cruise control system that could maintain a set distance to the vehicle ahead (Adaptive Cruise Control). And beyond the impressive tech, the SCC was also a styling showcase – previewing an upcoming new Volvo hatchback that would be called the C30.
Visitors to the 2005 Geneva motor show were treated to a prescient concept vehicle that pointed towards a trend for vehicle electrification that would start in earnest more than a decade later. The Volvo 3CC was the company’s latest vision for future mobility, and displaying perhaps a touch more stylistic flair than its first battery show car – the 1976 Electric Prototype. The zero-emissions 3CC was powered by an 80kW AC induction motor, delivering a potential range of more than 300km and 0-100km/h performance of about 10 seconds. A lithium-ion battery pack integrated into the car’s floor would become a widely adopted approach in the industry for improving an electric vehicle’s weight distribution. The 3CC’s compact body – just 3.9 metres long – was constructed from carbon fibre and laid over a high-strength steel space frame, and the doors opened upwards either side of a distinctive, tapering upper body. The cabin was also particularly novel, with its 2+1 layout comprising two front seats plus a single, super-wide rear seat that could accommodate either two children or one adult.
2016 Concept 40.1 and 40.2
Clever, flexible vehicle architectures with interchangeable components and systems are today’s manufacturing key to providing buyers with the widest and most diverse range of products feasible. In 2011, Volvo used its Universe concept to preview such a modular construction system called the Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA). Since 2014, SPA has been forming the technical basis for Volvo’s 90-series range that includes the XC90 luxury SUV, S90 luxury sedan and V90 Cross Country. And beneath the daringly designed Concept 40 twins introduced last year sat the company’s new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), which starting from 2017 will eventually form the crucial foundation for a new family of premium small cars. The 40.1 SUV and 40.2 sedan are visual pointers to a range of compact models that will each have their own distinct identity yet be unified in the way they bring the world’s most advanced standard package of safety features, as well as industry-leading connectivity, electrification and autonomous-driving technology.