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30th April 2015 |

China is driving Volvo’s design….but is it in the wrong direction?

There is no denying China is a global influence, especially where the car market is concerned. For the last several years it has outperformed even the States in terms of consumer demand. Natural then, that manufactures should sit up, prick their ears and take note of exactly what the Chinese market wants.

At the beginning of the month Volvo was one of the first to unveil a concept tailored to this Far Eastern taste, choosing the suitable platform of the Shanghai Motor Show to showcase their latest endeavour.

Aimed at the top end of the market, they have decided to tear out the front seat of their premium cars and replace them with something a little more practical. When you think of additions to premium cars you think TVs, a champagne cooler and depending on your tendency to party, perhaps even a disco ball. Volvo have headed in the opposite direction and implemented an in car office space.

China’s premium car market is expected to account for some 3 million vehicles by 2020 and Volvo’s electrically powered, moveable “lounge console” – featuring a desk, 17-inch TV screen, illuminated mirror and storage boxes, is clearly an attempt to get a jump on this growth.

But at Walton Bridge Garage, were not sure if we’re a fan. Don’t get us wrong, our guys in the workshop often work late into the night to get a job done. But with technology already resulting in working from home becoming a regular occurrence, even after a long day in the office, is it really necessary to work during your commute as well?

The morning an evening commutes are a time for peace, relaxation, music and conversation. Or if you live in the UK, bumper to bumper traffic, road rage, red lights and stress. But regardless, why add to it with an in car office space! There needs to be a separation between work and personal life and we feel this latest concept from Volvo encroaches upon this.

We can’t see this concept receiving the same popular reception in the West as arguably our favourite Swedish export, Ikea (and their meatballs). But to be fair, neither can Volvo and there are a couple of reasons for this.

For a start, any right minded Westerner would have their seat reclined, phone on silent and Top Gear playing on the TV screen as soon as they stepped foot in the car.

Not only this, but the use of said office space requires the addition of a chauffeur to drive you while you work. In China, cheaper labour cost mean that even the middle classes can afford the luxury of a chauffeur. In the West any one being driven by a chauffeur draws looks of curiosity, excitement and often disappointment when we realise it’s just some rich person and not a celebrity.

Finally the use of such a space also requires the vital component of Wi-Fi to make it fully functional. As anyone in the West can testify to, it can be a struggle to find a decent signal just feet from your router, let alone whilst driving around from place to place.

Now we get that this design is aimed more towards those who work on the move, travelling from place to place during the day. Not to create a nation of work focussed zombies who never stop. But if you want to live in your car, by a camper van.

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