VOLVO recently showcased the world’s first-ever concept car for women at Hilton Kuala Lumpur in its bid to parade women's prowess in car design.
The car was inspired by women and designed by Volvo's all-female “Your Concept Car” (YCC) project team, which was recently awarded the Women of the Year title by Automotive News Europe for their contribution to the industry.
Organised by Volvo Car Malaysia Sdn Bhd and Swedish Marque, the event was themed “Designed for the Senses” and attended by 200 guests.
Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2004, the car has been taken to 20 cities around the world, and was in Kuala Lumpur as part of the Asia-Pacific leg of its global tour.
According to Volvo Car Malaysia managing director How Wei Thing, the nine-woman project team was given complete freedom in the development process of the car as well as decision-making in terms of style, functionality and features.
“Women make up a growing number of Volvo customers in Europe and the United States, and this is a growing trend as well in Asia. It is clear that women look for more in a car than just sleek design and power-packed engine,” said How.
Women’s expectations of the perfect car identified by the team include smart storage solutions, good visibility, minimal maintenance and easy parking.
According to project manager Eva-Lisa Andersson, the idea for the YCC arose at the end of 2001 when Marti Barletta, an American expert on female consumer patterns, claimed that meeting the expectations of women was equivalent to exceeding the expectations of men.
“When we presented our idea to Volvo CEO and president Hans-Olov Olsson, it was greeted with enthusiasm, so we started working on our ideas.
“It took us about 14 months to develop the YCC. We constantly focused on getting the product right. Although the car is targeted at the independent female, to us, it is more a car made by women for people,” said Andersson, who was there with exterior designer Anna Rosen.
“We wanted to strike a good balance between functionality and style. When a woman sees the car, we want her response to be ‘I want it,’ and when she finally sits in the car, we want her response to be ‘I need it’,” she said, adding that the car was developed at a cost of RM15mil.
Besides a compact and sporty look, the car boasts compartments for handbags and notebook computers, gull-wing doors for easy access, eight interchangeable (and washable) seat-pad and carpet options and two capless ball-valve filling points situated beside the door on the driver’s side for easy petrol and washer fluid refill, among other features.
It also boasts run-flat tyres that enable a car to be driven to a service centre or a suitable stop point even after a puncture, as well as parking assistance and space-check function buttons for easy parking.
The YCC is a one-off project for sharing ideas and solutions, but many of the ideas hatched by the female think-tank may still appear in more conventional Volvos, as well as in other cars within the group.