[YesAuto Design Decoding] In many people's minds, Volvo is a brand that does not compromise in the field of safety, but has always lacked passion for design. Although the Scandinavian style of “sexual indifference” has many fans, it seems to be a drop in the bucket for the development of the brand. After all, companies have to rely on selling cars to survive, and the lessons of being a traditional Nordic car company, sticking to oneself and not seeking change, are in front of them. Volvo is naturally unwilling to repeat Saab’s mistakes, so it further taps market potential and seizes global cars. Consumer trends have become a matter of course.
What kind of car sells best in the world? Any car company will tell you, just look at the Chinese market, and SUVs are still the protagonist. Porsche, on the verge of bankruptcy, relied on the Cayenne and then launched the Macan. It was a very comfortable day. Lamborghini and Bentley also launched their first SUV models, although they were obsolete by fans. The actual orders came in, and they were robbed by the gold owners as soon as it went on the market. Even Rolls Royce, which is high above the ground, has to bow to the market. The first SUV Cullinan is said to have been booked out long ago.
Of course, today's protagonist XC40 is a compact luxury SUV launched by Volvo for young consumers, and it is also Volvo's first model on the CMA basic module architecture platform. The launch of XC40 represents the transformation of Volvo Cars and also indicates that the brand will break the sight of young consumer groups with more fashionable and personalized designs in the future. Once the new car was launched, it won the 2018 European Car of the Year Award, which is evident in its attention and competitiveness. In order to have a deeper understanding of the design concept of this car, we specially visited the Volvo Cars headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, and interviewed Robin Page, the design director of the XC40 model and the senior vice president of Volvo brand design.
■ Designer introduction and XC40 product positioning
As before, due to space and manufacturing cycle reasons, we have divided this design interpretation of Volvo XC40 into “Appearance” and “Interior” to show everyone. Today we first introduce to you the content of the appearance part. This part introduces us to product positioning and design by Alexander Petrofski, senior director of Volvo Car Group's product department, and Robin Page, senior vice president of Volvo Car Group's design department.
Alexander Petrofski is currently the project director and global marketing leader of Volvo XC40. He is also an engineer and also works in engine emission engineering. In contrast, Robin Page's reputation is much higher. After graduating from Coventry University, he worked in Jaguar and then Rolls-Royce & Bentley Motors for 14 years in interior design. And for such a long time from 2001 to 2012, Robin Page has always been the interior design director of Bentley Motors. We are familiar with the interiors of the Continental GT, Flying Spur, Mulsanne, and even the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the throne. It's all from his handwriting. At the same time, Robin Page was also responsible for the interior design project of Bugatti Veyron during 2011-2012.
In 2013, Robin Page switched to the Volvo Car Group and served as the vice president of design. He led the team to create the previously acclaimed new XC90, S90 and V90 as well as the Excellence Honor Edition models. These new cars have not only won repeatedly in appearance The award is also an epoch-making leap in the luxury of the interior that Robin Page is better at. In 2015, Robin Page won the Global Interior Designer of the Year Award, which is also an affirmation of his achievements in the design work of Volvo Cars.
In the family system of Volvo SUV models, a product of the size XC40 has never appeared. In fact, the major luxury brands have been coveting the compact SUV market for a long time, and the first one is still BBA. By making use of the existing platforms, the top three German brands can easily gain a foothold in this market segment. Therefore, in terms of major competitors, Alexander also pointed directly at BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q3. They are all pioneers in the compact luxury SUV market. Facts have proved that this market has great potential.
“X1 is already the second-generation model, and it is selling long-wheelbase models in the Chinese market. The brand and space are very competitive; GLA and Q3 will also be replaced in the past two years, especially for Audi. They We will continue to launch smaller Q2 models to grab market share.” Alexander said, “The competitiveness of other brands cannot be ignored, such as the just-released Lexus UX and Jaguar’s E-PACE. Of course, we believe that Land Rover The Range Rover Evoque is also one of our competitors.” Therefore, how to create a product that not only retains the family DNA, but also shows personality and sports personality, this problem is placed in front of the design team.
As the first model to enter the emerging market, Volvo maintains an extremely cautious attitude towards the XC40. The entire project started 6 years ago. As early as 2012, the team started market research with the purpose of understanding the needs and differences of different markets around the world. Therefore, the design team selected a total of more than 250 clients in 5 representative cities on three continents (Los Angeles, London, Hamburg, Beijing and Ningbo) to participate in this survey, which included interviews that lasted more than 60 days. There are also people who actually go to the customer's home to experience life.
Finally, when the data was aggregated to the XC40 project center in Gothenburg, the analysis found that the target consumer group of the XC40 was completely different from the previous XC90 and XC60. Take XC60 as an example. It is mainly aimed at successful people with families. While pursuing a refined life, they also hope to have a car to prove their identity and status as an encouragement to their achievements. .
However, the consumer group of XC40 is obviously different, their overall age is lower, they pursue independence and enjoy the convenient life brought by modern cities. The design of their residence is also very unique. It is no longer the traditional side of the rule, and will have their own ideas and tastes added to it. This also means that these consumers will also have requirements for this when choosing a car. What the designer has to do is not only let everyone know that it is a Volvo at a glance, but also give people the feeling that this Volvo is different from others.
In September 2017, Volvo Cars chose to launch the XC40 for the first time in the fashion capital of Milan, Italy. In addition to new cars, the showroom also exhibited nearly 40 works by top Nordic designers. It was a bold attempt for the automotive industry, but it was excellent in terms of response, and it was also a breakthrough for Volvo.
■ Interpretation of Volvo XC40 Appearance Design
Since I said before, there are already many competitors at the same level, so why choose Volvo XC40? Robin's answer probably represents the aspirations of some design and engineering staff-“The XC40 is a real SUV. Although many competing models of the same level are called SUVs, they only made a crossover with a sedan platform. So the XC40 The size of the body is very competitive in the same class. And because it is a real SUV, we provide a very high sitting posture, so that the driver’s vision will be better and the driving will naturally be more relaxed .”
In the Volvo SUV family system, Robin said that they did not want the XC40 to be the younger brother of the XC90 and XC60. These cars should be in the same family and have similar DNA relationships. “So you can still see the iconic grille on the XC40, the latest bevel car logo, and Thor's hammer headlights, which are now the strongest logo on Volvo models!” Robin said, ” At the same time, we define the design language of this car as'more solid sculptural shapes' and'more vivid key lines'.”
Compared with larger SUVs, the XC40 front has a different line ratio. The position of the front grille has a negative inclination, and the lower part of the grille has a design that folds inward. This is where the XC40's personality is reflected. The air intake grille of R-Design model adopts black high-gloss paint + grid grille design, while Inscription and Momentum models provide another set of chrome trim + straight waterfall grille design that is more in line with Chinese consumers. The only difference is whether the waterfall grille is also decorated with chrome.
Full-LED headlights continue to appear on the XC40 as the standard equipment of the whole series. Unlike the bold “eye-opening” design of the XC60, the XC40's “Thor's Hammer” daytime running lights appear more traditional, but the functionality is not compromised. Advanced functions such as headlight cleaning, adaptive far and near light switching, automatic obscuration of oncoming/forward vehicles, and follow-up steering are all equipped with rare headlight cleaning in the same level.
The clamshell engine cover is designed to prevent rainwater from invading the engine compartment in extreme environments. Perhaps it is because the owners think that the owners are young and active and will drive to more places to explore. The XC40 has become Volvo's first SUV equipped with this design. This corrects Robin's statement that “it is a real SUV, not a sedan with a higher chassis”.
Although the lines on the outside of the bonnet are inconspicuous, they are particularly critical. The area between it and the ridges on both sides of the bonnet is “shoveled away”. A recess is formed between the two lines, allowing the front of the car to see. It looks very sculptural. In addition, this line starts at the top of the front grille, then traverses through the hood, and then along the A-pillar to the roof, and finally ends at the taillights. It uses a single line to penetrate the front and rear of the car, which also allows the car to Looking sideways is not so monotonous.
The other two personalized lines come from the bottom of the door. The area under the door panel is made into two planes. The lower one is used to reflect the sky, and the upper one is used to reflect the ground. Therefore, there will always be shadows in this area, so that the car While highlighting the three-dimensional sense of the side, it also changes the visual size of the side of the car body. In the same way, you can also find a similar design on the black anti-scratch strip at the bottom.
The dividing line of the C-pillar was present in the first version of the design, and we can also see it on the Concept 40.1 concept car. Robin said that the existence of this line allows the design team to be able to between the dark-colored roof and the bright-colored roof. Make changes easier. In fact, the XC40 does provide three different roof combinations. For the more sporty R-Design models, black is obviously the best choice; Momentum is very personalized, and the use of white can undoubtedly show special temperament; Inscription For the most traditional consumption, although the same color roof is conservative, it is also the most secure solution.
In addition, the lower edge of the window of the R-Design model also uses the same black high-gloss trim strip as the front air intake grille. Momentum is also a black trim strip, but it is just an ordinary matte rubber strip, and the Inscription will be for future domestic models. Refer to the template, using chrome-plated window trim. As a result, we can see that the XC40 provides a rich body color scheme. The 12 sets of official color schemes are reported to be not all. After the introduction to the Chinese market, a brown model will be launched specifically for Chinese consumers to choose.
The rear of the XC40 is 40mm wider than the front, which will make the vehicle look more confident and sporty on the road, and the generous rear will always appear to be more classy. Volvo’s symbolic “Viking Axe” taillights are made more refined on the XC40. Together with the “Thor’s Hammer” headlights, it has become an important symbol for identifying Volvo cars at night. Depending on the details, even if you don’t By clearing the car logo, it can be easily distinguished that this is an XC60 and that is an XC40. “This is why the design of the light set is very, very important to Volvo.” Robin said.
The design of the rim is equally important. The XC40 provides almost the largest rim in this class, which makes the new car look more energetic than the competition. R-Design models are equipped with 20 inches as standard, and 21 inches are optional. The rest of the models will also be equipped with 17-19 inches of different rim styles depending on the configuration, and all of them are allowed to be selected upwards.
● Summary of appearance part:
Good design always brings a stronger sense of identity. Volvo, which has entered the new era, has already proven itself in the new 90-series and 60-series cars, and the launch of the XC40 is undoubtedly another challenge. From the traditionally conservative Nordic car companies, to the successful and gorgeous transformation, to breaking into a new market segment, to try models that they have never made before, Volvo's ambition is evident. The launch of the XC40 is undoubtedly worthy of recognition so far. From the much attention of Concept 40.1 to the successful win of the 2018 European Car of the Year Award for the production car, these all prove the industry's recognition of it.
Let’s stop here for the interpretation of the XC40's exterior design. In the next issue, we will bring you an introduction to the interior. Compared with the exterior styling, it is necessary to know that the interior is what Robin Page is best at. After leading the team to successfully create the interiors of the 90 series and 60 series, Robin and Ms. Ebba Maria Thunberg, who is responsible for materials and color matching, will be in the next In the midterm, we will introduce the story behind the interior design of Volvo XC40 in detail. See you in the next issue!
[YesAuto Design Decoding] Following the previous appearance part, today we will continue to introduce the Volvo XC40 interior design concept. It can be said that in recent years, Volvo's new interior style is even more popular than the upgrade of the appearance. The 90 and 60 series models led by the team led by interior designer Robin Page not only retain the simplicity and environmental protection of Scandinavian design, but also highlight the unique and luxurious atmosphere of Volvo. So when it comes to the more compact XC40 model, what design techniques will Robin and his colleagues use to make this new car show extraordinary temperament? What capital does it have to attract young consumers in the highly competitive compact luxury SUV market? Next we will answer for you one by one.
■ XC40's interior design and Volvo brand connection
In the introduction of the interior, in addition to the introduction by Mr. Robin Page, Ms. Ebba Maria Thunberg, Senior Vice President of Color and Materials of Volvo Car Group will also be added. She told us that the Volvo XC40 is the third work of the XC series SUV models. In fact, the design idea was also established from the establishment of the project.
When a new car is first designed, there will be many kinds of plans, the number of sketches is huge, and the design team will often discuss the life scenes and usage habits of the target consumer group together. After several rounds of internal screening, the final plan will enter the 3D modeling stage. At this stage, the design team will have to conduct multiple simulation experiments and improvements before making the finalized plan into a 1:1 sludge model.
“Unlike previous models of the previous generation, Volvo products in the new era will fully seek a sense of vertical design, and we will always maintain this design philosophy in the future,” Robin said, “because we think this is more logical, especially When using navigation, the direction of the vehicle on the screen is usually from bottom to top, so a vertical screen will be more suitable for viewing, and other elements in the car will be mainly vertical.”
After that, Ebba gave us some additional points. He told us that the interior design is also related to the platform, just like the new XC40 based on the CMA basic module architecture platform. Its interior design is the same as that of the 60 series that belongs to the SPA expandable module architecture. It is not exactly the same as the 90 series. But people sometimes feel that there are some similarities in the interiors of these cars, because the design usually starts with high-end models. These design ideas set from high-end models will be extended to more popular models, which can maintain the brand's tonality and provide a good sense of luxury, so this is often what consumers like to see.
From the perspective of interior design, Volvo's core concept is “respect for people”, and emphasizes the “relationship between man and nature” in design, and will not design for the sake of design. In the case of XC40, the interior of this car is based on the life taste and style of the younger generation, allowing the car to connect with their lives. The XC40 interior design includes three key factors: structure, space, and material technology.
■ XC40's interior design concept and details
1. The structural characteristics of the interior
The interior of the Volvo XC40 is actually mainly composed of three island-shaped areas. The central 9-inch display is a middle island, and the two left and right air outlets are counted as the other two island areas. Robin said this was inspired by the archipelago around Gothenburg. The islands and islands are connected by a bridge, which creates this kind of active middle line from one side of the car to the other.
“Like the exterior, we also have the same treatment for the transitions in different areas of the interior. A particularly beautiful trim is used between the air outlet and the air outlet, which gives people a very elegant feeling.” Robin said, “Then, like the exterior of the car, we also made a reverse cut design for this line on the interior to make the characteristics of the trim more obvious.”
The steering wheel is also a completely new design, which is completely different from the previous XC90 and XC60, so we also asked the question of whether it will increase additional costs during the interview. In this regard, Robin said that the XC40 is a new car based on a new platform that is different from the previous models. For the new platform models, they originally needed to build a new, younger and more sporty steering wheel. This is good for the design team, so they have the opportunity to create something new. At the same time, the new steering wheel also retains some iconic elements and details of the Volvo brand. For example, the layout of the buttons is similar to models on other platforms, which can better inherit the brand genes of the Volvo family.
The design of the handlebar is also very handy. The XC40 is the first model in the Volvo passenger car brand that is equipped with an electronic handlebar as standard. For the popular push-button and knob-type shifts, Robin believes that the design team still wants to minimize the adaptation time for consumers. Therefore, the traditional shift handle design is more in line with this goal and easier to operate. In addition, XC40 will also provide optional crystal handles in the future to meet the individual needs of young consumers.
There are also two important lines on the door panel, one extending from the position of the rearview mirror to the door armrest, and the other extending from the storage space above the armrest to the bottom. Robin believes that these two lines make the shape of the door panel more logical, and the visual effect can also form a strong impact.
2. Creative space layout
For Volvo, Robin said that the core value of its brand is “people-oriented”, so vehicles are also designed around people. When designing the interior for the XC40, the team believed that the target customer group for this car was the individualists. “Many consumers who buy this car are young people. They buy the car because they want it, not necessarily for the whole family. So everything we design is to give priority to the driver, including the ride space. , Is also the priority in the previous row. But this does not mean that we don’t care about the back row, but the weight will be lower compared to the front row.” Robin said with a smile.
In addition, considering the lifestyle and style of the younger generation, the design team will pay special attention to the details of the storage space when developing the interior. When doing research in the early days, the design team saw that many customers had water, paper towels, and other various things in their cars, which were placed in different locations and exposed. Especially obvious is the mobile phone charging cable, it is often located in the center of the car, these things will make the car appear chaotic, it is difficult to connect with the sense of luxury.
As an interior designer, Robin naturally has his own set of methods in the design of the interior space. He believes that the advantages and disadvantages of the interior can only be seen during non-stop daily use. The XC40 test car has been driving for a long time. The area in front of the handlebar can provide wireless charging for mobile phones, so that you can get rid of unsightly mobile phone cables. The size of the opening is just enough to fit an iPhoneX. Robin showed us how to put the phone here. Although all manufacturers will not recommend users to use the phone while driving, there is a place to put it in a safe place in an emergency. It's better than nothing.
Robin doesn't like to put many things in his pockets, so he often likes to throw the keys in the car, and now he can throw the keys in the armrest box or other storage compartments. “All the storage compartments in the car have anti-vibration materials, so there will be no unpleasant noises when driving.” Robin told us. At the same time, the volume of the armrest box is designed in accordance with the Chinese standard for drawer boxes (80mm×110mm×240mm). Designers have found that many Chinese consumers are more willing to put tissue boxes here.
The trash can located between the handlebar and the armrest box is one of the most creative designs in the XC40 car. It allows the driver to collect all the trash around him at will. At the same time, it is independently detachable and can be washed directly, so it is very convenient to take care of. There is also a separate net pocket at the rear, where you can fix small bags of paper towels or driving permits and other sundries here. Open the glove box and there will be a hook that can bear 2kg. You can hang bagged goods purchased from the supermarket or packaged takeaways here, effectively reducing the hidden danger of pollution in the car after being knocked over.
Large bottles of water and laptop-sized items can be placed in the door panel at the same time. The size is based on the fact that there are many large bottles of beverages in the US market. To this end, Volvo and Harman jointly developed the Air Woofer technology, which shifts the position of the front woofer to under the windshield to free up more spacious storage space for the door panel. Considering that large-sized storage compartments may lead to unstable storage of small bottles of beverages, Robin said that they do have consideration, and corresponding storage compartment accessories will be introduced in the future to solve this problem.
The Robin part of the seat specifically emphasized two points. One is that this seat is re-developed for the new platform model, which is different from the previous model, especially the headrest can be adjusted separately; the other is the front The seat backs of the rows of seats are made very thin under the premise of ensuring comfort. This is specially designed for the Chinese market. The reason is that “every time President Li (referring to Li Shufu, chairman of Geely Holding Group) comes to see the car, he will first Sitting in the back seat, he pays great attention to the leg space in the back row. Therefore, after making the front seat thinner, the leg space of the rear passengers will be larger and the ride comfort will be better.” These are the original words of Robin.
Some readers here may ask, didn’t Robin just say that the XC40's rear row weight is lower than the front row? Indeed, we also consulted Robin on this issue. He said that there is no contradiction between the two. The wheelbase of more than 2700mm can already allow designers to make competitive rear space without lengthening. And he believes that SUVs are not suitable for lengthening compared to cars, which will cause a serious imbalance in the proportion of the body. Therefore, the XC40 has already considered the size of the XC40 in the early design.
At the same time, in terms of the balance between loading space and riding space, the design team also held numerous meetings on the angle of the backrest. They think that although customers in this market segment will pay attention to the size of the rear space, in fact, young people will have a higher demand for luggage space in the trunk, so the design weight is based on the driver → trunk space → rear space , And finally set the current backrest angle. “If you really think that the rear space of the XC40 is not enough, then I think you should be a customer of our XC60.” Robin said with a smile.
So we will immediately see the most powerful trunk in the same class of cars, almost none of them. In addition to electric opening/closing and electric placement in the rear seats, XC40 also provides kick induction opening/closing function. In terms of functional layout, the trunk of the XC40 is of a high standard. In the process of using the car in Sweden for a few days, we easily put down two 28-inch luggage compartments and one 22-inch thickened luggage compartment + 1 school bag. And not only the space is large, but the user-friendly design is also outstanding. The following video can give you a more detailed presentation:
3. Fashionable color matching and innovative materials
Over the years, the essence of Scandinavian design philosophy is not only to use simplicity to highlight fashion, its core value is to “let the public should enjoy beautiful and useful things.” To apply this concept to vehicles, Ms. Ebba Maria Thunberg, who has served the Volvo brand for many years, is naturally a master.
The unique Scandinavian design style must have an obsession with colors and materials. Even if the XC40 consumer groups are different from previous products, this demanding design concept is still the same. The XC40's interior color is diverse and unrestrained, such as the seats. Different models provide four different colors. “There is an iron oxide red, inspired by the rust paint of traditional Swedish wooden houses. I believe Chinese consumers will like it very much,” Ebba said.
Another example is the carpet. Volvo also played a mix of nostalgia and fashion on the XC40. The lava-colored carpet is a bold attempt. Almost no model in the same class will do this. For Volvo, they did it as early as 1962 on the classic model P1800. In order to achieve the best effect on XC40 this time, the design team closed 15 combinations that they thought were not suitable, leaving only the one we can see now. It doesn't matter if you don't like it, the traditional black carpet will still be provided, so whether you are a passionate or a conservative, you can always find the XC40 that meets your needs.
In addition to bold color matching, decorative strips with various “mysteries” are also a major feature. They are by no means the chrome-plated colors that can be seen everywhere, and even come with exquisite dark patterns. There is a map of Gothenburg carved on a wooden veneer, which is both creative and emotional. The door panel on the right is Gothenburg Forest, on the left is Volvo's factory and production base, and the largest piece in the middle is the port area of Gothenburg. There is also an aluminum grid texture abstracted from the crisscrossing California city road network, or a dot matrix corresponding to the front of the car. In short, this time, the XC40 played very boldly.
Another major feature of Scandinavian design is environmental protection. Volvo Cars' reputation in environmental protection is no less than its achievements in the field of safety, which is another characteristic of Scandinavian style. The door trim and carpet are 100% recycled from PET plastic bottles, and the roof and curtain liners are also made of 30% recycled materials, which are lightweight, wear-resistant, and well maintained. “These are all ideas derived from traditional Nordic design furniture products. Putting them on the car will become more demanding. Because the environment of the car is very complicated, we must ensure that the interior will not happen for at least 15 years. Obvious damage.” Ebba said.
In addition, in the interior design system of Volvo Cars, there is a unique benchmark called “the ability to retain newness.” The design team will have some specific requirements before deciding to use any material, such as flammability, durability and dirt resistance. The materials used in all parts of the car must pass these tests, especially in places that are often in contact with hands. Taking the steering wheel as an example, the materials department must treat the leather used to prevent oil.
R-Design and Inscription models will use the best Nappa leather. Both Robin and Ebba believe that cowhide is still the most luxurious material in the car. “From the perspective of environmental protection, leather is actually a by-product of the food industry, so there is no need to deliberately slaughter animals in the process of obtaining materials, and we also try to use environmentally friendly processes when processing leather, so There is no smell in Volvo's new car,” Robin said.
As for the use of new synthetic materials, we also specifically solicited Ebba's opinion. She said that the use of leather and knitwear can make the weight difference of 7kg. At present, the adoption rate of knitwear on Volvo cars is only 10-15%. If there is a material that can surpass real leather in terms of luxury and weight in the future, of course designers are willing to use it. She also joked that some material suppliers wanted to use apple and coffee by-products to make leather, as well as pineapples and mushrooms. “It sounds interesting, but it will take a long time to verify whether it can be used for vehicles for so many years.”
In the process of the development of car companies, there will always be some products that will become classics and will be missed by future generations. The Volvo XC40 has such potential. This is a bold attempt by Volvo in the compact city SUV market. It is also a product of its fusion of bold fashion elements and traditional Nordic design. Compared with its competitors, this new car is not only eye-catching in appearance, but also the humanized interior design is classic, so that we can think that in the future, many car companies will draw inspiration from the design of XC40. Improve the design level of the entire industry in the humanized space.
In the short half-day interview, we also asked Robin about the acceptance of the Chinese market. He told us that Volvo has a design studio in Shanghai. As one of Volvo's most important markets, he listens to feedback from the Shanghai studio on the needs of Chinese consumers every week. At the same time, they are also constantly conducting market research on consumption trends and user needs in China's auto market. From the data point of view, Chinese consumers' enthusiasm for SUVs is still unabated, and this consumer group is showing a younger trend. At the same time, it’s surprising that Chinese consumers’ demand for station wagons is constantly increasing. In the past, sales of such models were mainly from Europe. The changes in consumer demand also proved that the young Chinese consumer groups under the rapid economic development are very important. The attitude and pursuit of life are no longer the same as those of their parents.
It can be seen that the launch of XC40 is not a hot-headed move, it is more like a pathfinder. Cut into the market segment with relatively stable SUV models to see how consumers accept the new design. Once the new car was released, it has been well received by major markets around the world, but if it can also be successful in the Chinese market, which has the largest share, it will undoubtedly be an incentive for the self-confidence of the brand and design team. So in the near future, I believe we can also see Volvo launch more young and fashionable new products. Finally, let us look forward to the launch of the new car together.