The shape and technology that the Concept Recharge demonstrates is very obviously Volvo, but it moves the game forward by being based on architecture that is designed purely for EVs. A mantra of less is better has been adopted, enabling the designers to simplify the design and alter the way that internal space is apportioned and used.
Volvo is promising that the first of its new generation of EVs will be an SUV, based on a completely new electric-only platform. It’s this upon which the Concept Recharge is based, and Volvo is calling the car a manifesto of where it wants to be in due course.
Key to increasing available space and offering what Volvo refers to as “genuinely better solutions to support a sustainable family life”, is that move away from any notion of making space for a petrol engine and its ancillaries. Like with most new EV-only platforms, space is liberated by moving the battery to within the floor, enabling designers to extend the wheelbase. Building the battery into the crash structure – as seen in the Volvo XC40 Recharge – is among the ways in which shorter overhangs can be incorporated, maximising interior capacity.
Whilst we don’t know the particulars of the platform, both range and fast charging are at the centre of its powertrain development. Northvolt, the Swedish battery company, is working with Volvo and aims to increase its batteries’ energy density by 50 per cent compared to today’s figures, enabling a range of up to 621 miles thanks to a proposed density of 1000Wh/l.
Looking at the Concept Recharge, you can clearly see its lineage, however Volvo designers have been able to optimise elements such as the roofline and bonnet, creating a car that retains the benefits of an SUV like the high seating position, but also enabling them to improve aerodynamics. On an EV, this is obviously one of the main priorities.
The Concept Recharge is the debutant of a new design language which echoes that less is better mantra. For example, the traditional Volvo grille has been done away with and replaced by a shield, which will house sensors such as the LiDAR safety and driving assistance technology that the brand will introduce with its new SUV. The Thor’s Hammer headlight design frames this and includes the latest HD technology.
At the rear, vertical taillights echo the brand’s traditional style and – on the Concept Recharge at least – extend at speed to improve aerodynamics. Whether this makes the final design remains to be seen.
Inside, technology and design collide in what the brand hopes will be a harmonious way. At the centre of the front area is a 15 inch touchscreen interface which will use a brand new infotainment system delivered by a continuing partnership with Google. Cloud-based and powered by Android Automotive OS, Volvo wants the interface to be harmonious with the design, as well as intelligent and logical to use.
Elsewhere in the cabin, the design will be defined by “clean lines and extensive use of sustainable and natural materials”. According to Head of Design, Robin Page: “The interior integrates our latest user experience technology with beautiful, sustainable and natural materials. Each part of the interior is like a piece of art and could stand alone as individual furniture in a room. We use the latest technologies but not for their own sake. We always focus on the benefits that technologies can bring.”
There’s no definitive date for the official reveal of Volvo’s roadgoing version of the Concept Recharge, but we reckon it’ll look very similar when the covers are finally lifted.