October 27, 2008

Volvo and Orrefors team up on S60 Concept for Detroit Motor Show

No matter how you slice it, Volvo has not been having a good sales year.

The brief bump in sales of the C30 hatchback and C70 convertible this spring have been offset by an awful third quarter. Last month, sales were down more than 50 percent compared to a year ago.

In an effort to spark some interest in their mid-size S60 sedan, Volvo has teamed up with Orrefors Crystal — the famous Swedish glassworks known best for high-end glassware — to build a customized S60 sedan for the Detroit Motor Show next January.

Today, we have the first teaser pics of the concept car's interior centerpiece.

Cast in three pieces, the S60 concept will feature a center console topped by a crystal glass panel stretching from the instrument panel all the way to the rear seat backrest in a graceful flowing arch. The panel is backlit by color LCD lights which can be adjusted to suit the driver's mood.

"If you want to explore the full scope of Scandinavian design, Sweden's glassworks are a natural source of inspiration. Large glass areas are also very much part of modern Swedish architecture, creating the special, light transparency," said design director Steve Mattin.

"The undulating, slightly twisted shape and the precise dimensional requirements were two exciting challenges we had to face." 'explained Orrefors design manager Gunilla Arvidsson.

In an homage to tradition, Orrefors craftsmen used hand-carved lengths of alderwood to create the molds for each of the three large panels. After casting, each panel was hand-polished before being delivered to Volvo's concept car workshops where they were joined into one panel.

Mattin said that the crystal panels were unlikely to make it into full-scale production, but that Volvo designers are looking for ways to include crystal glass on a smaller scale for future production models.

Hints of an S60 coupe?
With the recent introduction of the four-seat Passat CC, the trend of slinky, coupe-like sedans has begun to trickle down to more affordable cars. Volvo desperately needs a hit to help counter weakening sales figures and the S60 is due for a clean sheet redesign.

If the four-seat layout adopted by the S60 concept is any indication, I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that Volvo may be planning a four-door coupe of their own. Such a car would be the perfect shot in the arm for a sedan range that has become almost too homogenized.

[Volvo, ABG]

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