The Volvo Versatility Concept Car (VCC) is a futuristic, yet realistic expression in both design and technological advancement. Technology is not something the VCC is lacking.
Viewing the car from head-on, you immediately notice the slim, vertically stacked headlamps. The inner of the two lamps uses a system known as “Static Bending Light” with three light units aimed at different angles. The top unit points straight ahead and performs as a conventional dipped beam. As the car turns to one side or the other, sensors linked to the steering activate units two and finally three to illuminate the direction in which the car is turning. This system carves out a superior light pattern in the dark when driving on twisting roads, thus boosting safety standards.
Volvo Ambient Air Distribution System
The interior of the Versatility Concept Car has no visible conventional air vents. Instead, air is distributed via concealed outlets. The latter prevents unwanted reflections in the windscreen and provides silent and more uniform air distribution. Additional air is ducted through the tunnel console.
Optimised A-pillar construction
The use of high-strength steel in the construction of the A-pillars allows a slimmer design for significantly improved visibility – without sacrificing safety.
Volvo's V-Pulse is a handheld device that rests in the centre console and controls various functions within the car. In position, a gentle press of the V-Pulse starts the car. This soft and pleasantly rounded object, bearing Volvo’s signature Iron mark from 1927, is also used to lock and unlock the car, via a gentle squeeze of the V-Pulse.
The V-Pulse generates a calm and regular heartbeat, to indicate that the car is operating "on song". The heartbeat is transmitted as a gentle pulse to the hand. The frequency of the pulse will immediately rise if something is wrong. For example, if the car is left unlocked or the alarm goes off, you can then open the V-Pulse and see in the small display exactly what has happened. Communication with the car takes place via the GSM network.
The Volvo Ambient Air Cleaner (VAAC) – a world first
Emissions from today’s modern petrol engines are in many cases cleaner than the surrounding air, particularly in polluted city centres. In the Versatility Concept Car (VCC), Volvo Car Corporation presents entirely new technology that filters the surrounding air from the presence of two environmentally hazardous substances: hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NoX).
Absorbs nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons
The basis of VAAC is a container installed in the engine compartment, into which two filters are placed. While driving, the car’s ventilation-system fan sucks in air from the surroundings and directs it through the filters, which traps the nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. In this way, it also cleans the air for the passenger compartment.
When the filters are filled, they are heated to 150 degrees Celsius using the heat from the car’s own exhaust system. The nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons are now released from the filters and routed to the engine. The hydrocarbons are combusted in the engine cylinders, while the nitrogen oxides are reduced in the car’s catalytic converter.
In order to increase the VAAC system’s efficiency, the Versatility Concept Car is equipped with a sensor that monitors when the ambient air has reached a given level of pollution. It then activates the fan in response. This happens regardless of the car being used or not, since solar cells mounted on the roof powers the ventilation-system fan even when the car is parked. The system can thus absorb hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides even with the car’s engine switched off.
Filled in two days
The VAAC system can operate continuously for two days during normal urban conditions, before the filters are filled and they dispatch their contents to the engine. “VAAC requires a well-functioning, modern petrol engine for the system to work efficiently,” explains Jan Karlsson, project leader for VAAC development at Volvo Cars.
“With an engine of SULEV standard (Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle), the Versatility Concept Car neutralises the hydrocarbon emissions produced by up to three other cars, and thus helps clean up the surrounding air.”
VAAC is a Volvo patent that has been developed in cooperation with Engelhard Corporation.
PremAir® is the name of Volvo’s renowned “ozone eater” and it too is an important part of the overall pro-environmental profile of the Versatility Concept Car. Ground-level ozone is formed through a combination of air pollution and sunlight. It can cause headache and respiratory problems among humans and may also stunt plant growth. Volvo was the first car manufacturer in the world to directly deal with the problem of ground-level ozone through the introduction of PremAir® back in 1999. The car’s radiator is coated with a catalytic layer that converts up to 75% of the surrounding ground-level ozone into oxygen as it passes through the radiator.
Combining high performance with low consumption
The Volvo Versatility Concept Car, VCC, demonstrates that high performance no longer needs to go hand in hand with high fuel consumption and high environmental impact.
The VCC concept engine is an in-line direct-injected six-cylinder turbocharged engine with a displacement of 2.6 litres. The car produces 186 kiloWatts, yet consumes no more than 6.5 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres.
“New innovative engine and transmission technology makes this extremely low figure possible in a ten year perspective”, states Derek Crabb, Vice President Powertrain Engineering at Volvo Car Corporation.
The exceptionally low fuel consumption, at just 6.5 litres/100 km in a car topping 1300 kg, is achieved through a range of new technologies. “These technologies are not yet ready for production, but we are evaluating them in a ten year perspective”, says Derek Crabb.
The base engine features new turbo technology that puts the emphasis on combustion efficiency. This technology makes greater use of positive boost pressure to clear the combustion chamber of all traces of exhaust gases, thus improving the efficiency rating. The higher compression ratio is on a par with that of a naturally aspirated engine.
Direct Start&Stop means that the engine cuts out when the car stops, such as at traffic lights or in a stationary line of traffic. When it is time to move off again and the clutch is at the drag point, fuel is injected directly into the engine, which ignites the mixture immediately and gently accelerates the car.
Compression Auto Ignition, CAI, harnesses the benefits of a big engine to cut fuel consumption and lower exhaust emissions, however contradictory that might at first sound. The system creates a lean and homogeneous fuel/air mixture that is compression-ignited when the engine is being run on part load and at low to medium revs.
Automated Shifted Manual is a regular manual gearbox that can be shifted automatically with the help of electronically controlled actuators. The driver can thus use it exactly like a conventional automatic transmission. However, since a manual gearbox has a higher efficiency rating than an automatic – because the frictional losses are lower – the end-result is lower fuel consumption.
The torque-loss problem that arises at the moment of shifting in an automated manual gearbox has been solved in the Volvo Cars concept engine with ED, Electric Drive. The ED unit, which is powered by a separate 42 volt battery, also provides extra propulsion power at low revs, before the turbocharger has reached the necessary boost, thus eliminating the problem of turbo-lag.
Electric Drive also gives the battery a free charge of energy. When the driver lifts off the accelerator to reduce speed, the car’s forward motion powers the ED unit, which in turn recharges the 42 volt battery. This energy can be used, for instance, to drive the Versatility Concept Car for short distances on electric power alone, for example at very low speeds when crawling forward in congested traffic. The ED unit can be installed either on the driven axle or directly on the rear wheels.
In the Versatility Concept Car, the above technologies are combined with the use of lightweight materials, mainly aluminium and carbon fibre. The result is a ten percent reduction in weight compared with a similarly sized Volvo S80.
With a spate of concept vehicles in recent years, Volvo Cars has been overturning many automotive traditions. With its Performance Concept Cars, PCC and PCC2, the company showed that the customer who needs a family car need not compromise on performance and sports car dynamics.
The Adventure Concept Car, ACC, demonstrated that an SUV does not have to be aggressive towards smaller cars, and that it can have the reassuring and predictable driving properties of a regular passenger car. This vehicle formed the basis of the new XC90.
The Safety Concept Car, SCC, showed with the utmost clarity that a car with the very highest safety level can, in fact be neatly packaged and small in size.
And now with the Versatility Concept Car, VCC, it is time to show that a large, luxurious V-Range car from Volvo can have a clearly marked pro-environmental profile.
Practical Seduction – Introducing Volvo's Versatility Concept Car
The exterior design of the Versatility Concept Car (VCC) is dramatic and simple at one and the same time. A number of characteristic design elements ensure that no one is going to miss the fact that this is a Volvo:
The broad shoulders or “catwalk”, even more accentuated here than on the Volvo V70 and S80.
The soft yet tense frontal surfaces connect with the “sheer” surface of the rear
The characteristic V-shape of the bonnet starting with the grille, develops into the “Volvo bridge” (cantrail)
The indicators front and rear and door handles echo the linear character of the headlamps, and are visually connected via the “Volvo Arch”.
The VCC design is also characterised by the absence of a B-pillar, made possible by hinging the back doors at the rear instead of the front. This design promotes the display of the remarkable interior, but is, for safety reasons, not intended for production cars.
The instrument panel is one of elegant simplicity. This is an evolution of Volvo Cars’ current product programs, in particular the XC90 instrument panel. By minimising the number of design elements, the visual "pollution" is reduced. The surface finishes and colours harmonise with the other elements of the interior. “Our aim is to create an atmosphere of total tranquillity for our customers”, says José Diaz de la Vega, Creative Director, Strategic Design, at Volvo Cars.
Floating Centre Console
Manufactured in anodised aluminium, the centre console floats gracefully through the car – but it never reaches the dashboard. A two-centimetre gap divides the slim centre console from the dashboard, creating a feeling of lightness and space.
The centre console carries two touch-sensitive slider controls that regulate temperature for the driver and front passenger. Requiring no more than feather-light touch, the control slides up or down, depending on whether the driver or passenger wants the air to be warmer or cooler. The temperature is indicated with LED lights that change colour from cool blue to red hot. The fan is operated with a similar touch control, as are the power windows.
The centre console also carries two adjustable armrests upholstered in thick leather, and beneath them there are two individual cup holders. The sub-woofer for the Premium Sound System is located in the rear of the tunnel for optimised audio performance.
Roof onto the open skies
The roof panel features an X-frame with ambient lighting. It is operated by slider controls in the overhead console. An illuminated IC (Inflatable Curtain) logo offers another reminder of the safety system incorporated in the roof panel.
The solar panel in the roof is semi-transparent and enhances the feeling of spaciousness as well as providing power for the Volvo Ambient Air Cleaner (VAAC) system.
The very original and luxuriously designed seating arrangement is beautifully crafted using the traditions of the saddle-maker. Thick saddle-quality Havana hide for looks and feel, is complemented with Tempur-foam pads (a Swedish invention ) for comfort.
The front seats are mounted on rails integrated into the outer sill panel and centre tunnel console. This provides a flat and unobstructed floor for the rear passengers.
The safety belts are fully integrated into the seat frames, enabling the creation of a design without any B-pillars.
As part of the functionality of the rear seats they slide individually, powered by electric motors to provide optimum flexibility between luggage capacity and legroom. The headrests fold to improve visibility, and concealed beneath the armrest is an optional pop-up integrated child seat for children from three years of age.
The illuminated WHIPS (Whiplash Protection System) and SIPS (Side Impact Protection System) logos in the seats serve as reminders of the comprehensive safety systems on board.
Luggage travels in style
The primary objective for the luggage compartment is to create the same sensorial impact as that of the passenger’s lounge. The application of colours and high grade materials together with minute attention to detail, conveys an exclusive atmosphere without sacrificing practicality. For example tumble-mill soft leather is selected for the floor.
Features include a load floor that is electrically operated via controls mounted on the D-pillar. The floor slides out from the luggage compartment to make the loading procedure more convenient.
Beneath the load floor are two storage compartments, one heated and one chilled. The luggage compartment also features an integrated safe-box integrated in the right-hand side panel, while the left side contains a lift-out overnight case, trimmed in matching leather. The luggage cover is also electrically powered. It can be operated by from the driver’s seat and also from the switch in the D-pillar. When not in use, the panels are stored in a hidden recess within the rear seat.
Illuminated Door Panels
The door panels contain large leather-lined foldout storage compartments, together with ambient lighting, which illuminates the top edges of the door insert.
The grab handles are produced in brushed anodised aluminium with contrasting polished edges to complement the centre console. The door inserts are trimmed in the same saddle quality leather as is used on the seats and upper instrument panel.
Colour & Trim for automotive “haute couture”
The exterior and interior colour schemes have been developed to harmonise perfectly, the Volvo expression of automotive “haute couture”.
The finest grades of Swedish saddle leather have been carefully selected to complement soft Nubuck. The high gloss finish and design of the luggage cover is reminiscent of a high quality cabinet.
Aluminium is used decoratively both on the exterior and interior in a number of ways - anodised, brushed, sandblasted and polished. The ambient light further enhances the feeling of exclusivity.
The saddle-leather theme used for the upholstery is applied to the floor, underlining the concept of a clean and uncluttered interior. Paying attention to the comfort of the passenger’s feet, the Volvo designers have created genuine Nubuck leather strand rugs woven expertly by Swedish craftsmen.
Interactive Design for Smart Luxury
The Versatility Concept Car from Volvo is a vision of what interactivity in cars might be like ten years from now.Wireless networks make it possible to transfer a whole lot more to the car – resulting in less to carry around. It is what Volvo likes to call, Smart Luxury.
All entertainment features that are available at home, such as movies and music, are available in the car. In the Versatility Concept Car, there is no traditional audio unit or DVD player. Instead, the car is continuously connected to the home where music and movies are stored as electronic files. The car connects to the home using W-LAN, 3G or GPRS. These files are therefore accessible wherever the car is.
"Less Is More"
The Versatility Concept Car is also a reaction to the trend towards stacking increasing numbers of functions and controls in the centre console
In the VCC the amount of controls on the centre console are reduced to only the climate unit and security functions. The sliders, which control the temperature and fan speed, are designed to give the user a feeling of well being and being in control of a very high-tech system – and enjoying it.
All other information is available to the driver in the display module, which features digital instruments of analogue design for speed, revs, engine temperature and fuel quantity. These gauges are a digital interpretation of the metal dials in Volvo’s performance cars: the S60 R and V70 R.
The digital screen for the instruments provides added flexibility: when the driver wants to use the navigation system, a map is superimposed over the speedometer readout and rev counter. In the same way, the display can create a pop-up window containing information about the music being played in the audio system.
When the car is started, the system confirms that all the car’s safety systems are functioning properly by displaying all their icons in the display screen: WHIPS, SIPS, IC, DSTC, SRS AIRBAG.
The driver controls the various functions via controls grouped around the steering wheel hub, and via conventionally positioned stalks on either side of the steering wheel.
The functions and information are not available only to the driver. One of the main ideas about the system is to bring the controls to the passengers – instead of placing it all in the centre console. The control units are not built into the car and can therefore easily be changed and upgraded if necessary – a feature that truly shows the Scandinavian approach to luxury.
In the Versatility Concept Car, each passenger is given a wireless display with touch-functionality – a webpad. Using this, they can easily listen to their own music, watch films, browse the internet, or add a destination to the navigation system. The webpad can also act as an information carrier between the car, the home and the office.