9:30 PM | May 21 2021
Model Retrospective: 1992 Volvo ECC (Environmental Concept Car)
Sustainability was at the heart of this vehicle design study that was constructed in part using recyclable materials and powered by a hybrid drivetrain.
Thinking about the environment isn’t a new concept for the world’s most human-centric car maker.
In 1976, Volvo Cars gave the world the lambda sond sensor that gave birth to the catalytic converter – the emissions control that reduced harmful exhaust pollutants by 90 per cent.
And at the 1992 Paris motor show, the company unveiled a concept car that considered how a family car for the upcoming new century could not only be safe and comfortable but also environmentally optimised.
The materials for the ECC – Environmental Concept Car – were chosen specifically for their low environmental impact during production as well as their high degree of recyclability. This included the use of aluminium for the ECC’s body, which also contributed to a low gross weight of just 1580kg – an impressive figure for a large sedan.
The ECC’s exterior shape also boasted extremely efficient aerodynamics with a coefficient of drag (Cd) of just 0.23.
It was no coincidence the car was finished in stark white – inspired by Swedish winters and reflecting purity.
Under the ECC’s bonnet was a highly efficient – and fully operational – hybrid powertrain featuring an electric motor powered by a rapid-spinning gas turbine.
Dash controls allowed the driver to select Electric mode for battery-only power for the front wheels, Hybrid for a combination of battery and on-demand turbine, or Turbine for full performance. (It would provide a very early preview of the Hybrid, Pure and Power modes available to drivers of today’s Volvo Recharge Plug-In Hybrid vehicles.)
In Electric mode, the ECC met California’s Zero-Emission Vehicle standard, while in Hybrid mode it still met the US state’s ultra-tough Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) standard.
Inside, the ECC provided exceptional interior space for four adults and environmentally friendly upholstery in the form of a cork-faced fabric (for the seat centres). The natural cork was also for part of the door trims.
Another piece of prescient technology came with the ECC’s Dynaguide – a system that provided the driver with up-to-date traffic information via an instrument panel display.
Occupant protection was naturally first-rate and built upon the impressive safety credentials of the 1991 850 production car, which included the introduction of the side-impact protection system (SIPS).
The ECC was Volvo’s third concept vehicle with an environmental theme, following the 1976 Electric Car concept and 1983’s LCP2000.
Although as a design study the ECC didn’t go into production, its styling previewed a new design language – and particularly recognisable in the shape of the 1998 Volvo S80 large car.
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