The 1992 Volvo Eco concept car killed its boxy bodies forever

But all that whizz-bang engineering and digital connectivity was a smoke show that hid the true importance of the eco concept car. It wasn’t entirely clear on that Paris stage what would transform Volvo’s image from frightening to forward-thinking (and win it over to an entirely new generation of customers) before the decade was out. Although it took nearly 25 years and dozens of attempts for the electrification ideals expressed in the concept to make a meaningful impact on Volvo’s lineup, the ECC’s design language quickly and permanently changed the company.

The rabbit was already out of the hat—just in time, no one bothered to pay attention.

external thoughts

It is impossible to tell how indelible Volvo’s right angles had become by the early 90s. The automaker had worked hard in its box-on-wheels shtick, running endless advertising campaigns that trumpeted its rectilinear sheet metal for the image of safety equally important to the brand’s public image, the virtually curvy P1800 ES. And erasing any memory from Amazon. It was full steam on straight-rulers for nearly 20 years at the Volvo drafting desk until the advent of the ECC.

Why the sudden change in course? The arrival is credited to Peter Horbury as Volvo’s design director in 1991 (he is now the head of Volvo parent Geely’s global design division.) Horbury first pulled duty for the automaker in the mid-80s, when He had shaped one of these. Some of the company’s against-the-grain models, the 480ES. The hatchback’s plunging hood, pop-up headlights, and sloping hatchback buttresses certainly weren’t part of the usual Volvo canon.

To say that Horbury had an outside perspective on the Swedish company’s automotive design would be accurate, given the time Ford and MGA also spent. More importantly, they had a plan: to take on the same team that was working on a hybrid version of the recently completed Volvo 850 (also a box), from the company’s Camarillo, California design studio—Gothenburg. Too far—and to re-focus on a very different design future to achieve them.

a complete break with the past

Volvo’s design chiefs were looking for a profile that could serve as the company’s flagship and eventually reach other models as a guiding light for its styling future. Though up to the challenge of tackling traditional executive cars like the BMW 7 Series or Jaguar XJ, Horbury was determined to take Volvo out of its static image with a Halo model, which instead of being half-evolved in a dramatic new direction. was indicating. Efforts like the C70 coupe in the mid-’90s that combined its rounder bits into a familiar, 800-series derived template.

From a modern point of view, it is very easy to see how the shape of the ECC translated almost literally in the production of the 1999 S80 sedan. In addition to its gently sloping greenhouse flow, the concept introduced ‘shoulders’ that ran from the front fenders to the rear fenders, a hood that remained a diagonal-V with a pointed muzzle, recessed headlights and a Highlighted was the chunky, tall riding trunk lid fitted with the rear glass of the vehicle. Although somewhat muted by the time they reached production (and with a large D pillar addition at the rear), each of these features was prominent on the S80 which replaced the 900 series as the most luxurious Volvo money could buy.

At the time, there was a bit of an uproar over the looks of the environmental concept car. The sedan was so non-Volvo-like that most in the motoring press assumed the car’s attractiveness was simply to draw attention to its futuristic drivetrain. Company executives were somewhat hesitant about providing a surprisingly early design preview for exactly the same reasons they knew no one would take the ECC’s size seriously.

For Horbury, it was “the car that allowed me to replace Volvo forever.” With the ECC well received, the designer’s classic act of misdirection with the media required real-world examination to bring on his plan to use Volvo’s brass as a springboard away from the same old, same old. had passed. Recalling the reaction of Volvo’s CEO at the time, Pehr Gustaf Gellenhammer, Horbury told coach “… He said, ‘Well, I don’t like that,’ but I promised him that eventually he would.”

For My Next Act, I’ll Make This Box Disappear

If Gyllenhammar was on the fence about the S80’s looks, surely the profits associated with all the ECC’s kids inspired him to become a fan. Not only was the S80 a revelation for Volvo design, but it gave rise to strong volume sedans like the S60, and shortly thereafter Horbury labeled the ‘peak’ of Volvo’s revised design language: the XC90. That SUV carved out huge financial rewards for the company and helped turn it into an era that was less and less interested in the iconic wagons that helped build on Volvo’s previous success. The XC90 was actually written by Camarillo resident Doug Frascher, who came up with the initial sketches that led to the ECC revolution.

Horbury’s gamble paid off big time, and Volvo was indeed forever changed. The S80 and XC90 were the thin end of a nail that broke the company’s reputation as a maker of boring boxes and opened up a new world of possibilities that led directly to its current status as a design-first automaker. Once home lighting had been brought in from the beginning of EEC and Horbury had put on its top hat, the concept illuminated a design path that led the company to the present day.

On the other hand, that turbine hybrid? Electrification may be there, but we’re still waiting for David Copperfield to do well on that.

Nonton dan Sinopsis Kingdom: Ashin of the North Season 3

Leave a Comment