Why e-cars look very different: Volvo chief designer Robin Page in an interview-News

The ideas of the car designers vary greatly – some are more oriented towards the past, others in the electrical future. Volvo chief designer Robin Page talks about earlier and now, about emotions and changing expectations.

Question: Which design parallels and what differences can you see in the two Volvo models (C40 / P 1800)?

Robin Page: Volvo has a strong legacy that goes back to 1927 and in this story the brand created some iconic cars, such as the P1800 from the 1960s. When designing the future vehicle range, we are responsible for taking a look over the 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 2014 we presented three concept vehicles that were influenced by the P1800.

These concepts then shaped our current vehicle palette, such as our latest C40. The C40 not only has the coupe profile of the P1800, but also the key line of the rear shoulder, which passes from the rear light into the side glass. As for the differences, the C40 is a car that meets the needs of today’s customers by offering a high seating position with a simple entry and exit and great utility in a fully electric car.

Question: Apart from the greater attention for aerodynamics and the battery installed in the vehicle floor – what options does the design of an electric car offer to a designer or his team? And what are the disadvantages of electric vehicles that might not have existed with a combustion engine?

Robin Page: Since the C40 is a pure electric car, it no longer needs an open radiator grille, so one of our strong recognition 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 wheels in aero-style. There is a frunker under the bonnet, which optimizes the space that has become free by avoiding a combustion engine. The interior benefits from lighter, more modern and sustainable materials and an improved user experience.

Question: The Volvo P 1800 is considered an icon, especially because of its long bonnet – this is superfluous with electric cars. See a chance that there will be sporty vehicles with classic proportions such as the P1800 in the next few years?

Robin Page: I think the proportion of the long bonnet can still be relevant for low cars to create the dynamics of this vehicle type. In the higher car, the possibility of optimizing the interior by means of the absence of the combustion engine is very desirable for our customers, but that must also be reconciled with the achievement of large proportions.

Why e-cars look very different: Volvo chief designer Robin Page in an interview-News-volvo
Volvo Cars / Christian Bittmann Why e-cars look very different: Volvo chief designer Robin Page in an interview

Strong emotional bond with cars

Question: Only drive current vehicles from the current Volvo program or have one or more classic models privately? As a designer, you sometimes need this time jump or live alone in the world of electrified cars?

Robin Page: I am currently driving an XC60 account that is a fantastic car that meets my needs and my lifestyle. However, I also have a 1967 Jaguar E-Type, the car that sparked my passion for cars when I grew up in England as a child in my hometown Coventry. I believe that cars have a strong emotional connection to people, especially if you are younger. But the needs and expectations of our customers are constantly changing, so we have to deliver products that are relevant for our future customers, but capture the DNA and the purpose of the brand.

Question: If you talk to the design teams of the automotive manufacturers, the Covid 19 time in everyday life has a lot of effect on some companies, with some hardly. What is your own experience and how big is the team that you see regularly personally and not just on the screen?

Robin Page: During the Covid-19 we encouraged the people who could work from home to do this. This meant that the surroundings were safer for people who had to be physically in the studio, for example our sound model team and some of the designers. The designers were also encouraged to get design reviews during the week during the week. Ultimately, I think we have achieved a good balance to continue the projects without delay and optimize the digital tools in order to continue to deliver high -quality design work. I think in everyday life was half of the people in the teams, the rest was physically in the room.

Interior design and user experience are increasing

Question: How does the autodesign differ in China, North America and Europe for them and thus also for Volvo? Is the global car dead and will soon be more local cars with a correspondingly local design, as can be seen in some large corporations – also in your group -?

Robin Page: I believe that people buy a Volvo because they are attracted to our design aesthetics, brand values and the corporate purpose in terms of security, sustainability and personal orientation. This means that if you buy a Volvo, you get a foretaste of Scandinavian culture and the design principles. In order to meet customer needs in the different regions, we take into account the nuances that are particularly important in terms of colors and materials and the user experience, but are executed in a Scandinavian way.

Question: In the past, especially in Europe, the outer design played the most important role – that is increasingly changing. How will the interior of future vehicles develop? How will Volvo react to this trend?

Robin Page: I believe that the outer design will remain very relevant in the future, but I see that the interior design and the user experience will be even more important. Above all, since the technology will enable much more connectivity and ultimately autonomous driving, which really enables innovations for a living room environment with more entertainment and interaction, as we have researched in our 360c concept car.

Why e-cars look very different: Volvo chief designer Robin Page in an interview-News-volvo
Volvo Cars / Christian Bittmann Why e-cars look very different: Volvo chief designer Robin Page in an interview

Question: The premium manufacturers in particular are increasingly speaking of a new large vehicle class that will probably come soon – even above the luxury sedans / luxury SUVs – this is also a place for Volvo – a model larger than the upcoming XC90?

Robin Page: The electrical platform enables even more space and usability in the interior for this vehicle class, which will really benefit customers in the future. With regard to the need to offer a larger vehicle than the XC90 in our vehicle palette, now, I cannot comment on our future portfolio at this point, but you will simply have to wait and see what the future range of volvomodels will look like. Everything that I can say at the moment is that they look fantastic and are very relevant vehicles for our next generation of customers and remain loyal to the Volvo brand values.

This article was written by Stefan Grundhoff
The original to this post "Why e-cars look very different: Volvo chief designer Robin Page in an interview" comes from site.

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