Volvo showed this remarkable "Versatility Concept Car" for the first time at the 2003 Geneva Motor Show. It's Volvo's vision of a station wagon for the year 2013. What's special about it is that it sort of breaks with the current trend of shorter but higher cars (the MPV-style) and presents us with a long and sleek looking profile.
The VCC is meant to express that the traditional qualities of premium cars can be combined with future demands for environmental care and reduced use of natural resources. According to Volvo it offers the safety, quality, room and luxury of a business-class car with more consideration for the environment
Special features at the front of the car are the traditional Volvo grill set off by novel headlights in vertical slots. The three lights in the inner slots are aimed at different directions of which two are linked to the steering wheel in order to light the turns.
It's the side profile of the VCC which is the most striking. Long stretched lines with a slight wedge shape and a tapered roof section give it a distinctive and dynamic look. The big 20" wheels with Pirelli puncture-proof tires give an indication of the size of the car.
The shape of the car may be trend-breaking, some other features of the car are not. A popular fixture of new car designs is glass roof panels and the VCC has one of the largest of its kind. Its glass roof runs from windshield to rear window and covers the whole surface of the roof. Underneath there is a X-shaped frame for rigidity and mounting interior lighting. The glass is semi-transparent to reduce heating up of the interior and contains a solar panel which is used to power the car's air cleaning system.
To give credit to its claim about care for the environment the VCC is powered by a 2.6 litre direct injection engine which is fitted with an automatic stop-start system. This means that the engine is automatically switched off while waiting for traffic lights or standing in a traffic-jam and started again when the accelerator is depressed. A similar system was tested and even marketed by Volkswagen in the past but proved not very popular. In this case the system should result in a fuel consumption of only 6.5 litre per 100 km for this 250 hp engine.
The design of the rear section with its glass tailgate is said to be inspired by that of the classic Volvo P1800 ES. It's certainly eye-catching with its broad-shouldered bottom half and the narrowing top part.
When the tailgate is opened a large loading floor is revealed. It can be extended to the outside of the car by a push of a button for easy access. The floor contains two storage compartments, one heated and one chilled, and also an integrated safe and a lift-out overnight case. The rear seats can individually slide back and forth by electric motors to create the most optimal arrangement between luggage space and rear seat leg room.
As the VCC has a normal combustion engine it produces polluting exhaust fumes but Volvo has fitted a system to more than neutralize this: the "Ambient Air Cleaner". This system constantly filters the hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides from the air around the car and by doing that it's said to clean up the exhaust emissions from up to three other cars in polluted urban areas. A unique way of being environmentally friendly...
Yet another trend in concept car design is shown here: opposed opening doors in absence of a B-pillar. In this case Volvo admits that it has no plans of introducing this feature in regular production cars; it has been done in order to show off the interior.
Volvo has put a lot of effort into the design of this interior, which should be "an expression of Scandinavian luxury". Obviously high quality materials have been used and all is finished in leather. The seats have been padded with Tempur foam (a material better known for its use in mattresses) for extra comfort. Other remarkable items in the interior are wireless touch-screen displays for all passengers for information and entertainment, the "V-Pulse" key system which is a portable communications device which is in constant connection with the car and conveys the car's status to the owner by pulsating and, when placed in the car's console, starts the car when it's pressed and a minimalist center console which looks a bit like a piece of bent sheet metal and incorporates touch-sensitive slider controls which regulate the temperature in the car.
The VCC is another impressive addition to a growing range of dreary named but interesting and good looking Volvo concept car designs. Let's hope that the more exiting styling features of these concepts will find their way into new Volvo production cars.