Ever since Volvo Cars was purchased by the China-owned Zhejiang Geely group from Ford, they’ve put a much heavier emphasis on luxury. That emphasis was on full display when they announced the XC90 Excellence luxury SUV last year, a vehicle built for chauffeurs. It was a treat for anyone in the backseat (which only has two seats) — footrests, heated seats, champagne glasses, a mini-fridge, and a construction that brought road noise and shock down to almost nothing. Basically, it was the experience of flying first class distilled into an SUV.
But, part of that luxury concept (which is coming to the United States this year) was the Lounge Console. Keenly, Volvo figured that if they were building a vehicle for chauffeurs, there wasn’t much point putting in a front passenger seat. So, they had a concept vehicle that saw that front passenger seat removed and replaced with a console that could store shoes, documents, and valuables, while having a built in mirror and a 17″ LCD. There was one more use for that Lounge Console last year, though — the ultimate in baby luxury.
Volvo’s Child Seat concept featured a car seat that could be attached to that console, so a baby can face backwards and ride face-to-face with their parent sitting in the backseat. That little quirk is the big advantage here, although there’s also space under the car seat to store diapers or blankets. While it would be great for mothers and fathers to be able to face their babies while riding in a car, Volvo claims there’s an even more practical benefit — that the relatively large heads of babies puts more strain on their necks when facing forward than backward in a car. It makes sense — facing rearward, the force of the car’s momentum would push the baby’s head into the support of the car seat instead of pulling it away. Minor whiplash from regular stops and starts wouldn’t be felt as intensely.
It’s an interesting concept, and it has wider applications than just for ultra-luxury vehicles. Self-driving and autonomous cars are still a ways out, but we’ve already seen concepts of what those interiors would look like. Without the need for a driver, we’ve seen front seats that can swivel around to face rearward, an idea that would be a great fit for this car seat. As it always sadly is, it’ll be some time before this concept, which is terrific for families and infant health, can be enjoyed by anyone not in the upper echelon, but kudos to Volvo on a pretty insightful idea nonetheless.