Volvo Concept You
Volvo wants You to help it figure out what its customers want.
SEPTEMBER 2011 BY DAVID GLUCKMAN MULTIPLE PHOTOGRAPHERS
Volvo wants a better idea of what luxury buyers desire in a D-segment sedan, and it’s testing the waters by building concepts to gauge reactions in important markets. The Concept Universe, shown earlier this year in Shanghai and used to poll consumers there, was the first such endeavor, and the Concept You debuting at the Frankfurt auto show is the brand’s next crack at a new flagship design.
One assumption that the Swedish brand has made about luxury buyers is that they don’t highly value a big engine with a V configuration. Going forward, Volvo says it will hold its engines’ cylinder counts to four. In larger cars, like the S80-replacing flagship, the four-banger will be assisted by a hybrid system, either a traditional battery system or one with flywheel kinetic-energy storage. We can safely assume that such engines would be turbocharged as well. Volvo promises four-cylinders with greater efficiency than its current fours and more power than its sixes.
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Lightening the load for the small engines of its future, Volvo promises a weight reduction in the neighborhood of 220 to 330 pounds for its next big sedan. The Concept You is based on Volvo’s new Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA), which will underpin future medium and large cars and provide 40-percent parts commonality between the different size classes.
As for looks, Volvo is using its surveying powers to decide which elements of this concept and the Concept Universe it will combine to make the new large car. The You more successfully pulls in the hood shape of the Volvo Amazon from the ’50s and ’60s, but loses us in the glossy lower intake. We do like the four-door coupe look, as well as the rear-end treatment, modern as they may be. The silhouette apparently is testing well in China, and has of course proven successful here and in Europe.
Interestingly, Volvo is making no efforts to hide its Chinese ownership, with president and CEO Stefan Jacoby coming right out and saying that the car is being designed with the Chinese market in mind as much as the U.S. or Europe. That’s where the growth is, after all, and if Volvo is going to make its sales goal of 800,000 cars by 2020, it’s going to need all of the growth it can get