When is a concept car not a concept car? When it's also a 'manifesto for the next generation of all-electric Volvos.' That is the accolade that Volvo is according its own concept car, the Volvo Concept Recharge.
Looks nice, doesn't it? Is anyone else getting some distinct V70 Cross Country vibes from it? Just me, then? Ah well...
'Less is more' styling
Whatever you think of its looks, the Concept Recharge is what Volvo thinks it will be building and selling (or leasing to subscribers...) in a few years' time. Volvo says that it follows the Scandinavian design dictum of 'less is more' with clean, simple lines and a lack of visual ornamentation.
In part, that's a reflection of what's going on under the skin. As Volvo points out, its first-generation electric cars (such as the XC40 P8 Recharge, just launched in Ireland this week) have had to share their underpinnings with conventional petrol or diesel models. The next-generation won't have to do that, so their mechanical makeup can be simpler, more modular, and less bulky.
That means, says Volvo, that the designers have been able to increase interior space, while also improving aerodynamics. "The result is a car that offers genuinely better solutions to support a sustainable family life."
More room inside
The wheelbase is longer than usual, which allows both for a bigger, flatter battery pack and also more legroom for those inside, and there's a huge storage area between the front seats.
Thanks to the flexibility of the layout, Volvo has been able to bring down the overall height, and the height of the bonnet, but keep the seating and driver's eye position relatively high, for better visibility and a bit more of the SUV-style driving position that the Swedish company says its customers now prefer.
There's no grille (on a Volvo? Shock!) - just a plain panel with the company's distinctive 'Iron Mark' badge, and some sharp-looking 'Thors Hammer' headlights. The rear lights look like traditional tall Volvo estate lights, but they actually move - sticking out further at higher speeds, to smooth out the airflow and make the car more efficient when it's cruising on main roads.
"Our Concept Recharge represents a manifesto for the all-electric future of Volvo Cars, as well as a new type of vehicle," said Robin Page, Head of Design at Volvo Cars. "It displays new and modern proportions that go hand in hand with increased versatility and shows what technology can enable in terms of design."
Recycled materials in the cabin
Inside, there's a big 15-inch free-standing touchscreen, which Volvo claims "helps provide a serene and calm experience." Again, there's lots of clean lines and - in recent Volvo tradition - lots of recycled materials.
"Inside the Concept Recharge, we create a truly Scandinavian living room feeling," added Robin Page. "The interior integrates our latest user experience technology with beautiful, sustainable and natural materials. Each part of the interior is like a piece of art and could stand alone as individual furniture in a room. We use the latest technologies but not for their own sake. We always focus on the benefits that technologies can bring."
On the tech front, while Volvo isn't talking about battery range nor performance yet, it is bigging up its new LIDAR sensors (like a radar that uses light), developed with Luminar, which the Swedes expect will provide a big step in the direction of fully autonomous driving.
"With the Concept Recharge, we continue the rich roots of Volvo's design DNA in a modern and fresh way as we move into our all-electric future," concluded Robin Page. "It represents everything we believe customers expect from a pure electric Volvo and we're excited to take this philosophy into our next generation of cars."