Volvo Concept Recharge previews the future of Volvo design and technology

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Volvo has announced a whole slew of information about where the company is headed, from battery technology to advanced driver aids. And it was all capped by the concept car you see above, the Volvo Concept Recharge. It all shows that Volvo's future is stylish, electrified and featuring the latest in safety technology. So, in a way, pretty much exactly what you'd hope and expect.

Volvo didn't say much about the specifications of the Concept Recharge, but its design will clearly influence future Volvo models, including the company's upcoming flagship electric SUV that will be revealed next year. The front ditches even faux grilles for a sculpted fascia. The shape does echo some of the look of a grille, particularly with the Volvo slash and badge in the middle. The "Thor's Hammer" headlights remain, and in the case of the concept, they have wild running lights that slide up and out of the way inside the housing to make way for the actual projector headlights at night time. The whole shape of the car is based around the electric powertrain. It has a low floor and glass roof that means the whole body can be made lower and sleeker without compromising space. The wheels are pushed to the far edges, too. At the back, the car has slim vertical taillights, continuing a Volvo design tradition.

On the roof, there is a lidar sensor placed at the top of the windshield. This is a significant piece of Volvo's future, as its next generation of vehicles, starting with that aforementioned SUV, will all come with one of these sensors as standard. It will be used in combination with cameras, radar, real-time data, machine learning and mapping data to provide advanced driver aids, including what Volvo describes as "unsupervised autonomous" driving in specific circumstances. Basically, it will be SAE Level 3 autonomy, a step beyond the hands-free, but still supervised Level 2 systems such as GM's Super Cruise. It will only be available on specific roads in specific circumstances, and so it won't be able to handle the entire driving task from driveway to driveway. The company expects to offer this level of autonomy on highways first, and it will only be in specific areas to begin. It didn't give an exact timeline for the roll-out and it will be a more gradual increase over time, rather than everything being launched all at once. The company also emphasized that it will only begin launching the features when they're well and truly ready.

Volvo Concept Recharge
Volvo Concept Recharge

Besides driver aid improvements, Volvo is working on battery upgrades. It's looking at improvements in energy density from its lithium-ion batteries of 50 percent in the next few years. By the end of the decade, it's aiming for density of around 1,000 watts per liter, which it says would be on par with solid-state battery technology. Increased charging speeds are also on the docket with 800-volt charging systems, plus two-way charging so that the car's stored power could power homes and appliances.

Volvo is still paying plenty of attention to the cabin, too. On this Concept Recharge, the interior is airy and minimalist while using quality materials. The wood trim with integrated backlighting is particularly stylish, and the rear seats with adjustable height lower cushions are great for child safety as well as child visibility. Most relevant, though is the instrument cluster and infotainment system. These feature the next generation of Volvo infotainment, which seems to go entirely to touch controls. The layout is also strongly reminiscent of what's used in the Ford Mustang Mach-E with the slim instrument screen and large vertical infotainment screen. In this instance, it's a 15-inch display.

We'll see our first production implementations of this technology and styling with next year's Volvo flagship SUV. It has been described as the successor to the XC90. Volvo noted that it will adopt an actual name rather than an alphanumeric, which is a big change for the brand. We may also see some of this technology appear in the Polestar 3 crossover that's also on the way.

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