The Volvo stand at this year’s Los Angeles motor show press event doesn't feature any cars on it – with the Swedish firm saying it is instead using the event to explore how the concept of a car will change in the future.
In place of a selection of its newest vehicles, the focal point of Volvo's stand for the Automobility LA event at the Los Angeles Convention Centre is a sign reading ‘This is not a car’.
Marten Levenstam, Volvo’s product strategy boss, said the decision was partly inspired by event organisers calling the show’s press days Automobility LA, incorporating a series of events exploring future car technology.
Levanstam said that Volvo “got the memo” and wanted to “start a conversation about the future of automobility. So instead of bringing a car, we talk about the concept of a car.”
Volvo’s stand features a series of interactive displays focusing on services it is developing for the future, including connectivity, autonomous driving and in-car delivery services.
The bold decision to show no cars on the stand allowed Volvo to concentrate on telling us how technology will revolutionise our relationship with it. Nothing so new with the idea, but there was new in the detail. Instead of discussing a concept car, said chief strategist Morten Levenstam, Volvo wants to discuss the concept of the car, and bring back some of the freedoms it originally provided.
These include quality time on board, because the car self-drives, using the car as a receptacle for Amazon package deliveries for instance - no more undelivered, lost or stolen parcels - enabling your car to provide every app you have when you're outside it and elsewhere. Rather startlingly the company suggested not buying cars.
Partnerships will bring about some of this, with tech companies like Amazon and Google, and less well known silicon valley inhabitants such as Luminar, which specialises in long-range radar imaging.
Luminar's LIDAR sensors have a range of 250 metres, and can also identify human movement, bringing autonomy a step closer.
Not buying a car is about subscription services, which Volvo already offers in the US, bringing in new customers, and customers 10 years younger than those acquiring through traditional means. Again, not new, but like much of the much broader technology around cars these days, part of the gathering shift in the way we'll use them tomorrow.
The car maker has previously highlighted some of those services and concepts with its recent 360C autonomous concept, and with a series of trials and link-ups with tech firms including Amazon, Google and Chinese firm Baidu.