Car design yesterday and today: does an electric car have to look different? Interview with Volvo’s chief designer
Some car manufacturers rely on retro design, others want to go with the past have nothing to do and are breaking completely new design paths with electric vehicles. We spoke to Volvo Chief Designer Robin Page about the connection between yesterday and today.
FOCUS Online: What design parallels and what differences do you see in the two Volvo models (C 40 / P 1800)?
Robin Page: Volvo has a strong legacy that goes back to the and in this story the brand has created some iconic cars such as the P 1800 from the 1960 years. When designing the future range of vehicles, we have a responsibility to look over our shoulder to capture some of the DNA and key lines of our past. However, it is even more important to create the modern, progressive design of the future. In the year 2014 we presented three concept vehicles that were developed by the P 1800. These concepts have then shaped our current range of vehicles, such as our latest C 40. The C 40 not only has the coupe profile of the P 1800, but also the Key line of the rear shoulder that merges from the rear light into the side glass. As for the differences, the C is 40 a car that meets the needs of today’s customers by offering a high seating position with easy entry and exit and great utility in a fully electric car.
Apart from the greater attention paid to aerodynamics and the battery installed in the vehicle floor – what possibilities does the design of an electric car offer? Designer or his team? And what are the disadvantages of electric vehicles that might not have existed with an internal combustion engine?
Because the C 40 is a purely electric car, it no longer needs an open radiator grille, which is why one of our strong identifying features is the closed and optically clean front, which is supported on both sides by the Thors Hammer light signatures. We have designed the profile of the vehicle in such a way that the aero efficiency is optimized together with the aero-style wheels. Under the bonnet there is a frunk that optimizes the space freed up by doing without an internal combustion engine. The interior benefits from lighter, more modern and sustainable materials and an improved user experience.
When driving a car was still freedom: The shrillest carts of the 70he The Volvo P 1800 is an icon, especially because of its long hood – this is superfluous with electric cars. Do you see a chance that sporty vehicles with classic proportions like the P will give?
I think for low cars the proportion of the long hood can still be relevant to create the dynamics of this type of vehicle. In the case of higher cars, the possibility of optimizing the interior space by eliminating the internal combustion engine is very desirable for our customers, but that too has to be reconciled with achieving large proportions.
Rent a car and save with SIXT car rental (advertisement) Do you only drive current vehicles from the current Volvo range or do you also have one or more classic models privately? As a designer, do you sometimes need this leap in time or do you already live alone in the world of electrified cars?
I am currently driving an XC 60 Recharge which is a fantastic car that meets my needs and lifestyle. However, I also own a 1967 he Jaguar E-Type, the car which sparked my passion for cars when I was a kid in my hometown Coventry in England grew up. I believe that cars have a strong emotional connection with people, especially when you are younger. But our customers’ needs and expectations are constantly changing, so we need to deliver products that are relevant to our future customers but capture the DNA and purpose of the brand.
When talking to the design teams of the automobile manufacturers, the Covid – 19 – Time in everyday life is very high in some companies, but hardly in some. What is your own experience and how big is the team that you regularly see in person and not just on the screen?
During the Covid – 19 we encouraged people who could work from home to do so. That meant the environment was safer for the people who needed to be physically in the studio, such as our clay modeling team and some of the designers. The designers were also encouraged to attend design meetings during the week if necessary. Ultimately, I think we struck a good balance in moving the projects forward without delay and tweaking the digital tools to keep delivering high quality design work. I think in everyday life half of the people were in the teams, the rest were physically in the room.
Travel safely and hygienically by train. (Advertisement) How is the car design different in China , North America and Europe for you and thus also for Volvo? Is the global car dead and will there soon be more local cars with a correspondingly local design, as can be seen in some large corporations – including yours?
I think people buy a Volvo because of our design aesthetics, brand values and company purpose in terms of safety, Sustainability and personal orientation are attracted. That means when you buy a Volvo you get a taste of Scandinavian culture and design principles. In order to meet customer needs in the different regions, we take into account the nuances, which are especially important in terms of colors and materials and the user experience, but are carried out in a Scandinavian way.
Played in the past, especially in Europe , the exterior design the most important role – that is changing increasingly. How will the interior of future vehicles develop? How will Volvo react to this trend?
I believe that the exterior design will remain very relevant in the future, but I see the interior design and the user experience becoming even more important. Especially as the technology will enable a lot more connectivity and ultimately autonomous driving, which will really allow innovation for a living room environment with more entertainment and interaction, as we do in our 360 c Concept Car researched.
Premium manufacturers in particular are increasingly talking about a new, large vehicle class that is likely to come soon – even above the luxury sedans / Luxury SUVs – there is also a place for Volvo – i.e. a model larger than the upcoming XC 90?
Robin Page: The electric platform allows even more space and usability in the interior for this vehicle class, what will really benefit customers in the future. Regarding the need to have a bigger vehicle than the XC 70 to offer in our vehicle range, well, I cannot comment on our future portfolio at this time, but you will just have to wait and see what the future range of Volvo models will look like. All I can say right now is that they look amazing and are very relevant vehicles for our next generation of customers and stay true to the values of the Volvo brand.
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