Auto Shanghai 2011: Volvo Concept Universe is whatever you want it to be

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 18, 2011

How Volvo will proceed after being bought by Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group has been eagerly anticipated and now, Volvo’s Concept Universe is on display at the Shanghai motor show.

This gives us a sneak preview of Volvo’s future direction. Volvo refers to the Universe as a “large, luxurious sedan with a new human-centric design language that honors the beautiful lines of classic Volvo models.”

Stefan Jacoby, president and CEO of Volvo, said that the Concept Universe provides a hint of what consumers can expect from the next top-of-the-line sedan.

Peter Horbury, the vice-president of design and who is on his second stint as its creative director, said that the Concept Universe is “exceptionally refined” but it has all the basic elements that “make Volvo champions of the uncomplicated.”

He also said that modern luxury car buyers have grown to appreciate this combination of design and technology. He said that Volvo is certain that there is an immense future for its unique brand of human-centric luxury.

Volvo insiders say that the specific platform and engine for the Universe has yet to be finalized. But even as the concept doesn’t exceed a length of five meters, Volvo sources say that it won’t be lengthened for the market in China due to “best-in-class interior space.”

The Universe project kicked off 12 months ago when Volvo’s designers were tasked to create a new form language for Volvo. The brand’s exterior designer Jonathon Disley said that the team went around the Volvo museum to see the classic models “from a different viewpoint.”

It is clear that the Volvo Universe Concept offers comfort like no other. The environment has been promoted to be user-focused and even simple. Comfort and relaxation are guaranteed for those in the rear while the front has been geared to be driver-oriented. Within the in-command driver environment, there are intuitive controls and even a touch screen that goes near the driver’s hand once the driver tries to reach it.

In addition, the driver gets to manage everything while sitting in what has clearly been motivated by ultra-comfortable chairs. Even the passengers sitting in the rear get to experience the comfort. The interior appears to mould to the rear seat, eventually becoming part of this seating environment. A dark-color scheme starts on the front seats to offer a dynamic feel. The color then slowly starts to fade flawlessly to the rear portion where the mood then changes to one of calm.

The Volvo Universe Concept continues to have many of the classic forms, textures and materials. However it applies a twist to it and ends up creating a more modern luxury experience. Peter Horbury adds that even if the Volvo Universe Concept offers outstanding refinements, it continues to have the simple assets that have long made Volvo the champion when it comes to the uncomplicated.

The trend has been that there is increased appreciation from luxury car customers when it comes to a clever mix of technology and design, and this has helped the brand on its success, he continues. The company is more than convinced that this particular brand of luxury has a truly great future, Horbury concludes.

Volvo Car Corporation President and CEO Stefan Jacoby meanwhile shares that the goal has always been to become a brand that could best understand what its customers expect from modern luxury cars. The company, he continues, is excited to learn what Chinese customers, considered as one of the most demanding, feel when it comes to the luxurious concept. After that, the company will then exhibit this design to Europe and the U.S. as a way of bringing to the global market the original goal it had for all of its models, Jacoby relates.

Press Release

Volvo Universe Concept

At the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show, Volvo Car Corporation visualises a masterpiece of Scandinavian Design for car buyers with exquisite tastes.

The Volvo Universe Concept is a large, luxurious sedan with a new human-centric design language that honours the beautiful lines of classic Volvo models.

"The Volvo Universe Concept offers the world a sneak preview of what people can expect from our next top-of-the-line sedan," says Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation.

Volvo Car Corporation's long-term strategy is to be a successful, truly global company with products designed around our customers' needs and lifestyle.

Scandinavian Design is about understanding and caring about people. Volvo Car Corporation aims to be the brand that best interprets what buyers of modern luxury cars want.

The Volvo Universe Concept has been designed to spark a subconscious desire and a feeling of eternal beauty.

It moves towards the future with its coupe-like roofline and contemporary, solid rear, but it also echoes Volvo's proud heritage by borrowing design cues from classic models of the past.

"Just like fine luxury goods, this design feels handcrafted and durable enough to stand the test of time," says Peter Horbury, Vice President Design at Volvo Car Corporation. "We will compete with the best with our special kind of Scandinavian Design. It is unmatched in performance and technology, but without superficiality or complication."

User-focused and pure

The interior of the Volvo Universe Concept is a comfortable, cultivated environment that is also user-focused and refreshingly uncomplicated. It is driver-orientated in the front and comfortably relaxed in the rear.

The in-command driver environment has intuitive controls and a touch-screen that approaches the hand when the driver reaches towards it - with everything operated from a seat that is inspired by ultra-comfortable chairs.

Passengers in the rear seat are embraced by pure comfort. The interior moulds into the rear seat and becomes part of the seating environment.

The dynamic feel and the dark colour scheme of the front seats fades seamlessly towards the rear until it fully transforms into a light rear seat haven of calmness. Volvo Universe Concept is full of classic forms, materials and textures, used with a twist to create a special contemporary luxury experience.

"The Volvo Universe Concept is exceptionally refined, yet with all the simplistic assets that make Volvo champions of the uncomplicated. There is a growing appreciation for this ingenious blend of design and technology among modern luxury car buyers. This trend paves the way for our success. We are convinced that our special brand of luxury has a great future," Peter Horbury concludes.

"Our aim is to be the brand that best understands what buyers of modern luxury cars want. We are eager to hear what the most demanding Chinese customers think of this luxurious concept. Later, we will show the design in Europe and the United States in order to bring it into the global context that we are aiming for with all our car models," says Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation.

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