With an exterior the color of a deep sea iceberg, an interior that feels like a lounge in a boutique hotel, Volvo’s new Concept You is a peek into the future of auto technology, but is packaged in a classic look that evokes the golden age of car design.
Revealed at the Frankfurt Auto Show last week, the You features all sorts of tactile details which have become lost in the auto industry’s move toward plastic, plastic, and more plastic. The grille updates the recognizable Volvo branding and is echoed in the 21-inch polished aluminum wheels that feature a distinctive twisted-spoke pattern. Those four narrow LED lamps used for the headlights are nicknamed "ice blocks," and they’re installed with the same technology that a jeweler would use to set a diamond. Inside, finishes of leather, suede, and walnut give a living-room quality to the seating, while the door panels are actually made from fine men’s suit fabric designed by the Swedish fashion house Oscar Jacobson.
Some of the details, like the wheels, the grille, and the headlamps, are inspired by the iconic Danish design house Georg Jensen, known for its minimalist styling, organic curves, and cool metals (we recently thought a garlic peeler was particularly Jensen-esque). "This eternal beauty of Georg Jensen design is what we are aiming for with the whole concept car," says Volvo’s VP of design, Peter Horbury. "Just like the finest luxury goods, this design should feel handcrafted and durable enough to stand the test of time."
Inside, the car is lined with touch screens—on the windscreen, on the center console, even on the steering wheel—which work pretty much the way you’d expect them to, except for the fact that they can be controlled by your eyes. Wha? Yes, an infrared camera is scanning for eye movement and will wake up the screens only when the driver looks directly at it—a clever advancement in fighting distracted driving, which might one day prove crucial as cars move toward multiple displays flashing with information.