You could argue that the passenger seat is largely redundant in a chauffeur-driven vehicle, aside from providing a handy place for the driver to put their packed lunch and newspaper. Volvo is looking to make better use of that space – for the rear-seat passenger at least – by removing the passenger seat and replacing it with a multi-purpose luxury footrest.
Launched at the Shanghai International Auto Show, the Volvo Lounge Console is a concept designed to provide chauffeur-driven businesspeople with extra storage and comfort. The console sits in place of the passenger seat and incorporates a mirror, TV screen and storage compartment.
For buyers who want to keep up with work on the move, the Lounge Console incorporates an aircraft-aping tray table that provides space for a computer and notes. Rolling the table 90 degrees reveals another one of the Lounge Console's tricks in the form of a 17-inch TV screen that puts the 10- and 11-inch rear-seat media units in other luxury cars to shame.
Opening up the tray table reveals a fully illuminated vanity mirror, which includes a storage tray for jewellery or makeup. Hiding underneath the Lounge Console's padded leg rest is a storage compartment designed for for the well-heeled's shoes, while Volvo has also included a lockable storage box, just in case owners have anything they want to hide from a shifty chauffeur. The uninterrupted front view is also claimed to give the impression of a more spacious ride.
So what has inspired Volvo's decision to remove the passenger seat? If you ask the company, it will probably say the idea came from something along the lines of "ethnographic research to establish the unexpressed and unmet needs of people with a high-profile lifestyle."
But we suspect it has more to do with the burgeoning Chinese luxury market. After all, Volvo used the Shanghai Auto Show to unveil a new ultra-luxury Excellence version of its XC90 SUV, while Audi used the show to display a long wheelbase A6 exclusively designed for China. So it's no surprise to see manufacturers going above and beyond to win the attention of China's new-money luxury car buyers.
The Lounge Console is only a concept for now, with no word from Volvo on whether it will make production or not.
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