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We speak to Volvo about its all new S90 flagship luxury sedan, the second model to be built on the company's new Scalable Product Architecture.

29 Sep 2016

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Has Volvo got what it takes to beat the Germans with its all new S90 premium luxury segment fighter? Jonathan Disley (JD), Vice President of Design, and Henrik Jarlebratt (HJ), Senior Director Product and Revenue, Region APEC certainly think so. We speak to the two men, who swear by the S90's long dash-to-axle ratio and award-winning design.

Gothenburg is the luxury yacht quarter of Sweden, and the city inspires Mr. Disley (above) and his team in terms of design
SGCM: In terms of design, what sort of inspirations were drawn during the development process?

JD:
We wanted to reflect Scandinavian values - simplicity, high quality and advanced technology. The face of the car for sure, can't be anything other than Scandinavian. We are also a coastal brand, and the city of Gothenburg, which has a lot of yachts also inspired what we did.

SGCM: What challenges, if any, did you have to overcome while designing the interior of the S90?

JD: To design a new seat was tough, as our seats are considered to be the most comfortable in the world. But now we've got seats that are thinner and more sculptured, yet still made to be the best in the market. If it isn't, people will instantly question its design. It's a challenge to make something as good, or if not better than the previous.

Then, there were the car's air vents. Because they are designed to be vertical, you need stiffness in the blades. If you make the blades quite short, you can get away with using plastics. But if you have it long like the S90's, you need to make it out of magnesium, and therefore you'll need new tooling techniques and new patents.

You can explain to anyone in one simple sentence - "I saw headlamps that resemble Thor's hammer," says Mr. Disley of Volvo's new identity
SGCM: In order to keep up with appearances, the new Volvos now look very different to what they looked like before. Are you afraid some might mistake it for a German make.

JD: No. When you see the T-shaped headlamps coming towards you, it's distinctive. You can go back to your friends, even if you don't know a thing about cars, you can explain to them in one simple sentence - I saw headlamps that resemble Thor's hammer.

You won't find another car like that.

SGCM: What is it like designing with the new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform? What were its advantages and/or disadvantages?

JD: We had so many advantages. We basically designed the car from scratch. Normally, when you design a car, any car, you have so many carry-over parts. This stops you from designing the next generation because you're held back by grassroots. As soon as you start with a new platform and new technology, you're free to do whatever you want. This almost never happens.

With the SPA platform and the way that the underpinnings are, we could work with the engineers to say - we need this here and that, there.
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