Automotive

Volvo ditches the passenger seat for a new twist on chauffeur-driven luxury

The Lounge Console offers the legroom that can only come without a front seat
The Lounge Console offers the legroom that can only come without a front seat
View 14 Images
The Lounge Console is chasing the chauffeur-driven market
1/14
The Lounge Console is chasing the chauffeur-driven market
Rear seat passengers have an uninhibited view forward, as well as a comfortable footrest
2/14
Rear seat passengers have an uninhibited view forward, as well as a comfortable footrest
Shoe storage comes standard with the Lounge Console
3/14
Shoe storage comes standard with the Lounge Console
The Lounge Console was displayed at the Shanghai Auto Show
4/14
The Lounge Console was displayed at the Shanghai Auto Show
A vanity mirror is included in the price of admission
5/14
A vanity mirror is included in the price of admission
The finish on the Lounge Console unit is impressive
6/14
The finish on the Lounge Console unit is impressive
It's not surprising that Volvo launched the Lounge Console in China
7/14
It's not surprising that Volvo launched the Lounge Console in China
Busy business people are Volvo's target market
8/14
Busy business people are Volvo's target market
The Lounge Console's table rotates to reveal the TV screen
9/14
The Lounge Console's table rotates to reveal the TV screen
When it's all packed up, the Lounge Console looks like a giant, leather-trimmed footrest.
10/14
When it's all packed up, the Lounge Console looks like a giant, leather-trimmed footrest.
The Lounge Console also includes a 17-inch TV screen
11/14
The Lounge Console also includes a 17-inch TV screen
A lockable box is there if you're afraid of having your valuables nicked
12/14
A lockable box is there if you're afraid of having your valuables nicked
If you're keen to get work done, the Lounge Console includes a tray table
13/14
If you're keen to get work done, the Lounge Console includes a tray table
The Lounge Console offers the legroom that can only come without a front seat
14/14
The Lounge Console offers the legroom that can only come without a front seat

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.

A lockable box is there if you're afraid of having your valuables nicked
A lockable box is there if you're afraid of having your valuables nicked

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."

If you're keen to get work done, the Lounge Console includes a tray table
If you're keen to get work done, the Lounge Console includes a tray table

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.

Source: Volvo

13 comments
Daishi
It seems like you could build a seat that folds down mostly flat similar to the ones in SUV's and vans if you just need it to double as a foot rest. The DVD player/tray table would still work mostly the same way.
Milton
Now they just need to figure out a way to ditch the driver's seat.
kentobin
I'm sure some 'significant others' who think of themselves as 'the center of the universe' will love this vehicle. It also puts a whole new spin on the idiom 'back seat driver'. :-)
Douglas Bennett Rogers
I can put a bed in the Grand Voyager and let somebody else or a robot drive. Insurance and tax are almost nothing. Mid seat and passenger seat will also work like this.
Frank Sellers
This is why Aerosmith sang Eat the Rich.
Evan Rofheart
Perverse and sick - totally dehumanizing for the driver.
gabrielhimal
Your tongue in cheek comment on ethnographic research is likely more accurate than you think. Having visited China over 38 times (and being trained as an ethnographer) I was struck by the fact that the high status seat in a vehicle (usually a Toyota Landcruiser costing well over 150k in the remoter areas) was always in the front next to the driver. The back seats are for lower ranked people. Volvo is brilliant in expanding the favored front seat into a prestigious front/back seat for VIPs. I would invest if I could. Sales should be excellent.
Bill Bennett
That seat belt looks like it goes across her neck.
moreover
Considering how bad congestion is in China this is a perfectly reasonable development.
pwndecaf
I would think a different seatbelt style would be needed to keep people from sliding underneath the lap belt in a front end crash.