Andreas Faust and Patrick Solberg
What is the most important thing in the car? CD player? Interior or performance? In the past, everything that mattered to get us excited about the car. But today there is another important thing: “The program identifies the car!” says Patrick Bengtson, Head of Programs at Volvo.
Because: If necessary cables are available to network systems and operating system books, by electrification, dimensions, wheelbase, range or power they can be flexibly selected for each model. This is where Volvo President Hakan Samuelsson sees the future of his brand: from an old-school automaker to a software-based service company that would make their customers’ lives easier. Cars are ‘only’ the hardware platform on which customers can dock with all kinds of peripherals – from smartphones to their intelligently controlled homes.
Everything is under control
That’s why Volvo is clearing the table: an end to versatile platforms like the XC40, which is available with petrol, plug-in hybrid or purely electric. In the future, the electric motor will be repaired. Thanks to the new material combinations in the battery, the range is expected to increase up to 900 km by 2026. At the same time, the collaboration with battery manufacturer Northvolt is to make cells and batteries cheaper by 2025 so that Stromer is on par with combustion engines in terms of costs Purchase from about 2025.
By co-producing batteries with Northvolt, Volvo is also becoming independent from major battery suppliers such as LG or Panasonic. Samuelsson wants to control the entire chain in production and development; From extracting raw materials or adding recycled materials to the finished vehicle. This limits costs and reduces the influence of external suppliers. Volvo wants to determine what software is running in Volvo, for example, and can constantly import updates: “Today the car is better when it comes out of the factory. Things will get better and better in the future,” says Bingson.
Basically two computers
To do this, he arranges electricity: instead of about 100 controllers as in Volvos today, two central computers in each future car will control everything – from electronic stability control to driver assistants to charging control via the app. The program has interfaces where external developers can integrate their own functions into the operating system developed by Google and Volvo. The central computer provides 700 meters of cable – you will notice in terms of weight and therefore consumption.
Do not just fix the client with it – the design is especially important to them. With the Recharge concept, Volvo’s chief designer, Robin Page, reveals how he envisions the next generation of Volvo electric cars: the distinguishing feature is the short overhangs and large interior, under which the extremely large battery pack is hidden. Instead of a box with its own steel casing at the bottom of the body, this will in the future be glued to steel plates to form a high-strength sandwich that can also take on the function of the base – this also saves weight and enables thinner battery packs.
Very pure and Scandinavian
The Concept Recharge’s design is more refined than you know from current Volvo models. Inside and out, the lines are reduced to a minimum. What remains is a neat front with the well-known shield-shaped radiator grille and LED lights with optics T. Grill? More like a fully enclosed front surface in the layout of the previous grill. Also new is the HD graphics technology, which reveals the main lighting units at night, while the familiar vertical taillights expand in the rear at higher speeds. “The Volvo Recharging concept gives a glimpse into the all-electric future of Volvo cars and a new type of vehicle,” says Page. “Modern proportions increase diversity at home. At the same time, the concept car shows what new technology can make possible in terms of design.”
The inside is as pure as the outside. All functions are operated via a 15-inch flanged touch screen, the operating system learns in a driver-specific manner and frequently used functions are always available directly. By 2030, Volvo’s entire range—starting with the next XC90, which is likely to come in 2022—should be entirely electric. It remains to be seen how much of the Recharge concept will make it into a series.
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