Volvo design boss Thomas Ingenlath says premium cars must still contain premium content, and must not rely on big leaps in styling

Volvo’s new generation of cars will call time on ‘bling’ in premium car design, according to the company’s German design boss Thomas Ingenlath.

Ingenlath, who has been at the Swedish carmaker for two and half years, said he thought buyers would begin to turn away from ‘flashy’ design especially if it disguises a "lack of real content".

"You can make big jumps in design when a brand is establishing itself but, after that, it is all about sophistication," he said. "In terms of design language, premium doesn’t need to jump about. [In future] premium design will be about consistency over time."

Ingenlath’s comments, made at the recent Geneva motor show, were reflected by Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern, who was also speaking at Geneva.

McGovern said the approach for the recent facelift of the Evoque was "not to change it, but to improve and refine the design" and to "increase and refine the interior luxury".

He said this approach to luxury was already in evidence on the fashion world’s catwalks where ‘flashy’ design had been replaced by a more polished and refined look.

According to Ingenlath, this shift in premium design is a natural move for a Swedish company. "In Sweden it is not done to show personal wealth – expect, perhaps for owning a boat," he said. "I really had to explain to many people in the company how luxury could be related to the Volvo brand.

"You have to understand how people live in Sweden. You might argue that having the Swedish landscape and ultra-clean air is a kind of ultimate luxury compared to many places in the rest of the world." Swedish luxury, he hints, is public rather than private or personal.

Ingenlath makes it clear that expressing luxury in consumer items is very much frowned upon in Sweden. But pushing the Volvo brand upmarket required him and his team to come up with a design language that bridges both Swedish sensibilities and the need to appeal to global premium car buyers.

The belief that "premium design doesn’t need to radiate content" is, he said, reflected in the cabin of the new XC90, which is dominated by a large tablet-style touchscreen. "Although the XC90 does, on paper, compete with German SUVs, the interior gives the passenger a completely different experience and has a very different flair," he said.

Ingenlth also denied that Volvo "was becoming an SUV company", despite the XC60 and XC90 being long-term best sellers. "You must not under-estimate the saloon market in China and America," he said, adding that Volvo would still produce estate cars, despite small sales.

"I am not religious about the definition of estate and SUV," he said. "I see having models such as the XC60 and XC70 together as having a portfolio of estate cars in the widest sense."

The next all-new Ingelath production car is will be launched at the Geneva show in 2016 and is expected to be the replacement for the S and V60 models.

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Comments
21

24 March 2015
It would be nice if not all cars tried to look like coupés, with the attendant high waistlines, small windows and reduced headroom. It would be especially nice if Mercedes stopped producing cars that looked like badly iced cakes left out in the sun.

24 March 2015
"Volvo’s new generation of cars will call time on ‘bling’ in premium car design, according to the company’s German design boss Thomas Ingenlath"

Mercedes & BMW & Cadillac (I refer especially to that ghastly Escalade) - designers take note.

24 March 2015
In saying that I hope the 40 and 60 series of cars remain unique. The V40 and XC60 are just something abit different in a world of conservative premium design and that's why they sell so well.

24 March 2015
Autocar wrote:

The next all-new Ingelath production car is will be launched at the Geneva show in 2016 and is expected to be the replacement for the S and V60 models.

I was under the impression the next model to be replaced would be the V70 and S80, to be renamed the V90 and S90, built using the new Volvo platform and engine range as seen in the new XC90, and it was due later this year.. (At least thats what Jim Holder said on 14th January).

24 March 2015
And, at a stroke, Thomas has summed up eighty years of Volvo styling. People buy big flashy cars to show off. If they didn't, car design would be simple; one large, rectangular box with one smaller rectangular box on top of it like a Volvo 144. "Job done. Can we go to the pub now?". You may criticise Cadillac design and understandably so but it works for its market. There's a lot of money in Gangsta Rap - look at Lewis Hamilton! Lecturers and Accountants love their Volvo's and Audi's. Some of us prefer big flashy cars that shout at people "look at me and the size of my wad!!". Oh God no. I'm back in the 80's.

24 March 2015
Non-flashy cars like the A3, Focus, Astra, Golf outsell the V40 which isn't flashy, it's just plain ugly.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

24 March 2015
Giant tablets sprouting from the dashboard - another sorry and dangerous development. It's as if the Surrey Mum's kitchen is migrating into her Royal-aping SUV. They'll have built-in au pairs next, living in the boot.

24 March 2015
Crazy People movie, 1990, slogan for Volvo. Seems the head of design was a fan of the the film....

 

 

 

24 March 2015
Thomas Ingenlath wrote:

I really had to explain to many people in the company how luxury could be related to the Volvo brand.

Wonder what Volvo thought the LUX abbreviation meant in their model line-up?

24 March 2015
I thought Lewis Hamilton was a formula one driver? Straff, do you also think Lewis Hamilton likes fried chicken and bananas?

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