Car manufacturers have conflicting views about what the car of the future will look like. Nissan’s Teatro for Dayz has all the markings of an ecstasy party bus, while Toyota’s FCV Plus appears to be a giant aquarium capsule with an augmented reality steering wheel. If the two are really a glimpse of modern car design, it might be worth investing in a luxury bike instead.
Before you lose hope, there’s one more concept design to consider. The latest automobile brand to reveal its take on the car of the future is Volvo. Called Concept 26, the vehicle is packed with parts that can morph into whatever you want it to look like. The name of the project was inspired by the average duration of the daily urban commute. According to Volvo’s survey team, most people spend roughly 26 minutes commuting every morning.
“It’s all about people,” said Volvo’s interior design chief Robin Page. “Our research clearly shows that some people will want to use their commuting time creatively when they have full autonomous drive available, while others will want to just sit back and relax, watch online media or listen to music.”
What we know about Concept 26 is very little. The Swedish automaker previewed some of the core features, which left more questions on the table than answers. Shining light on how the car works are the three modes that owners can choose from: Drive, Create or Relax. Drive mode is self-explanatory; it basically allows you to take full control of the vehicle like today’s cars.
Create mode shows the driver casually sliding his seat back after programming in a destination into the main control pad. At the same time, the steering wheel gets swallowed into the dashboard to make more room for the driver’s legs. From this position, you could tend to your emails or watch your favorite movies from the monitor that appears out of thin air under the glove compartment. A tray table is also available, possibly for light snacking or getting some last minute work done.
The Relax option is for those days when you lack sleep. This mode strongly relies on autonomous driving technology. The padded seat slides all the way back, an ottoman is deployed to lullaby you to sleep, and the car safely drives itself to your destination. Volvo designers suggest that this feature will make you want to stay in your car longer and prolong your daily commute by taking an unconventional route or doing loops around your office until you’re ready to wake up.
“Volvo Concept 26 addresses the notion that driving can still be fun and liberating on the right day and on the right road, but that some parts of driving, notably the daily commute in many metro areas, is stressful, frustrating and even broken,” explained Anders Tylman-Mikiewicz, GM of the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center. “By providing drivers the choice of when to drive or delegate driving, we are able to retain the love and freedom of the open road while fixing the broken commute.”