Volvo wants to bring the first-class flying experience to the road. How? With the new 360c concept.
What is the Volvo 360c?
Volvo has revealed a surprise new concept car called 360c, a vehicle it describes it as “a holistic view of a future of travel that is autonomous, electric, connected and safe”. It all sounds both very futuristic, and very Volvo-like.
On the surface, it’s a future-looking concept not unlike any other. It’s not unattractive and it is discernibly a Volvo – a change from most manufacturers’ anonymous visions of the future in a similar mould.
Where the 360c really pushes the boat out is in the attention to detail, given its intended purpose, and the conversations that Volvo wants it to start. More on that in a bit…
What’s inside the Volvo 360c?
This is where it gets interesting. To all appearances, the Volvo 360c is entirely configurable to your personal needs. Indeed there are four potential uses – sleeping environment, mobile office, living room and entertainment space. All are said to “reimagine the way people travel”.
Volvo wants this car to bleed into other areas of your life and in doing so, improve it – transport, work and otherwise. A hotel room-come-cabbie on the go to help you “recapture time while travelling in the cities of the future”.
Pictured are a bed configuration, with the cabin not looking unlike a first-class pitch on a transatlantic flight, an office arrangement, fit to seat four, a party arrangement, complete with champagne, and a standard living room-style setup.
Live 200 miles away from the office? Not to worry, there’s a mobile office on your drive. Got a journey from Seattle to LA? Set off at 10pm, have a night’s kip, be there by 3pm the next day… (Okay, one thing autonomous cars will never be, is as fast as a domestic flight.)
It’s all rather appealing and well thought-out, especially when you consider Volvo’s musings on the future of transport.
“Autonomous vehicle concepts have a tendency to become a technology showcase instead of a vision of how people use it,” said Robin Page, senior vice president of design at Volvo Cars.
“But Volvo is a human-centric brand. We focus on the daily lives of our customers and how we can make them better. The 360c is the next iteration of this approach.”
What’s the point of the Volvo 360c?
The conversations this 360c was built to start, are the point. Volvo are keen to stress the scale of the quantum leap in transportation that the advent of autonomous cars represents. How far-reaching can the remit of the autonomous car be?
Volvo reckons pretty far, citing domestic air travel as a target that it thinks a network of these pods could beat. The apparent inconvenience of domestic flights, as taken by some 740 million of us by Volvo’s maths – security, cramped seating, emissions output and so on, all to be remedied by a comfortable across-country ride in the Volvo 360c.
“Domestic air travel sounds great when you buy your ticket, but it really isn’t. The 360c represents what could be a whole new take on the industry,” said Mårten Levenstam, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Volvo Cars.
“The sleeping cabin allows you to enjoy premium comfort and peaceful travel through the night and wake up refreshed at your destination. It could enable us to compete with the world’s leading aircraft makers.”
“When the Wright brothers took to the skies in 1903, they did not have a clue about what modern air travel would look like.”
“We do not know what the future of autonomous drive will hold, but it will have a profound impact on how people travel, how we design our cities and how we use infrastructure.”
Before we get to that stage though, we need to lock down how an autonomous infrastructure is going to work. To this end, the 360c is intended as a conversation catalyst, and it’s a conversation Volvo is keen to have as soon as possible.
“We regard the 360c as a conversation starter, with more ideas and answers to come as we learn more.”