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Volvo concept car drops driving wheel, can be used to snooze

By Li Fusheng | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-10 13:31
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The fully autonomous 360c concept is redefining how vehicles can be used, according to Volvo. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Swedish premium carmaker Volvo Cars has unveiled a new autonomous concept car, which it says is redefining how vehicles can be used and can open up new growth markets.

The 360c, which made its debut last week, is an electric and connected car without a steering wheel, and can serve as a sleeping environment, mobile office, living room and entertainment space, according to Volvo.

Volvo did not offer a timeline for the model's mass production, but it expects autonomous cars to account for a third of its sales by 2025, with fully electric cars claiming 50 percent.

"Autonomous driving will allow us to take the big next step in safety, but also open up exciting new business models and allow consumers to spend time in the car doing what they want to do," said Hakan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars.

"The business will change in the coming years and Volvo should lead that change of our industry," he said.

Volvo said the 360c represents a potentially lucrative competitor to short-haul air travel of around 300 kilometers, a multi-billion dollar industry comprising airlines, aircraft makers and other service providers.

"Domestic air travel sounds great when you buy your ticket, but it really isn't. The 360c represents what could be a whole new take on the industry," said Marten Levenstam, senior vice-president of corporate strategy at Volvo Cars.

"The sleeping cabin allows you to enjoy premium comfort and peaceful travel through the night and wake up refreshed at your destination. It could enable us to compete with the world's leading aircraft makers."

The automaker says the 360c is a first, yet deliberate, step toward a broad discussion about the potential for autonomous driving technology to fundamentally change society in many ways.

"We do not know what the future of autonomous driving will hold, but it will have a profound impact on how people travel, how we design our cities and how we use infrastructure," Levenstam said.

"We regard the 360c as a conversation starter, with more ideas and answers to come as we learn more," he added.

Volvo said the concept also looks at how people engage with friends and family while on the move, and how they can recapture time while traveling in the cities of the future.

"Autonomous vehicle concepts have a tendency to become a technology showcase instead of a vision of how people use it," said Robin Page, senior vice-president of design at Volvo Cars.

"But Volvo is a human-centric brand. We focus on the daily lives of our customers and how we can make them better. The 360c is the next iteration of this approach," he said.

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