It’s a tough time to be a luxury automaker. The competition is fierce, and the swanky-feature arms race only seems to escalate. Massage seats, custom-designed sound systems, and neck warmers are no longer enough to stand out.
Volvo’s latest innovation is a special, four-seat edition of its XC90 SUV. The XC90 “Excellence” is built specifically for China, where the luxury market is booming and having a chauffeur is far more common than it is in the US or Europe. That makes the backseat the place to be. So the Swedes yanked the third row entirely, making more room acres of legroom, massage seats, folding tables, and a temperature-controlled cup holder. The second row now feels like first class.
And that, obviously, isn’t enough for some people. For that crowd, Volvo has put together a new concept that takes things further. Revealed at the Shanghai auto show, the “Lounge Console” ditches not just the third row, but the front passenger seat. In its place is a combination storage/ottoman/television/work table in its place.
“People who are on the move and have a hectic lifestyle going from event to event or meeting to meeting need some space, some luxury time, and the opportunity to relax and refresh themselves for the next engagement,” says Thomas Ingenlath, Volvo’s senior vice president for design.
By that, he means enough space for Yao Ming to work on his yoga, or enjoy a 17″ screen, a cushioned leg rest, and storage boxes for shoes (!), jewelry and makeup.
It’s actually sort of surprising it’s taken the auto industry this long to remove the front seat, but for those looking to travel in decadence (and don’t have 2.4 kids to haul around), the Lounge Concept could be just the ticket.