In the automotive world, the vast majority of concept cars offer subtle glimpses into what our outlandish future may look like. While such models are typically only seen once or twice a year at motor shows, a fair amount of their features do eventually trickle down to the cars found out and about on roads across New Zealand and the wider world.
Volvo is investing a significant amount of time and money in perfecting the driving experience of tomorrow.
With that in mind, it appears as though Volvo sees the car of tomorrow as one that's incredibly technologically driven, with the Swedish marque unveiling its Concept 26.
A question of freedom
As Volvo itself explained on the release of its new charger, cars have always been a symbol of freedom. The company has decided that it wants to take that mantra to the next level, and create a car with a driving experience that's far removed from anything seen before.
In essence, the Concept 26 is more of an extension of other consumer items, with much of the actual driving taken care of by myriad sensors and technologies. A brief overview of the vehicle, along with it in action, can be found within this video:
Naturally, after seeing the video, one of the first questions that will be asked is around safety. While many companies are attempting to make autonomous driving their own, who's responsible if such a vehicle crashes when the driver is technically not in control?
Well, Volvo has taken one, rather large step to ensure that safety in this regard shouldn't be something that will play on the mind of the owners of their vehicles in the future.
"Volvo will accept full liability whenever one of our cars is in autonomous mode. We are one of the first car makers in the world to make such a promise," explained Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo Car Group President and CEO.
Reinventing the buying experience
So, while the Swedish marque is making strides in defining the driving experience of tomorrow, what about other times when consumers interact with vehicles? Well, Volvo is well ahead of the curve here too, and is looking to alter how people buy vehicles in the future.
In fact, it has teamed up with tech giant Microsoft to assess whether augmented reality systems will form the heart of the purchase process. To begin with, Volvo will begin to implement Microsoft's Hololens technology into its showrooms, giving potential drivers a unique way to view vehicles in the digital space.
This video from Microsoft shows how the system is set to work:
A digital future
The partnership between the two companies could also stretch into other road-going technologies in the future, perhaps paving the way for cars, vans and trucks that are even more digitally driven.
Whether that does indeed end up being the case remains to be seen, but there can be little denying that technology is shaping the automotive sector in the here and now. For fleet managers, this should certainly be seen as a good thing.
While the most modern vehicles are perhaps a touch more expensive, the benefits they offer in safety, efficiency – providing that fuel cards are properly utilised – and general drivability cannot be underplayed.
Volvo looks to be leading the charge when it comes to digitally minded vehicles, but there are a whole host of manufacturers aiming to ensure that the roads of tomorrow are filled with cars, vans and trucks that are progressive pieces of technology in their own right.