Volvo 360c concept unveiled

Autonomous concept has highly flexible interior and could challenge short-haul airline industry.
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The Volvo 360c concept, unveiled overnight, shows what the Swedish automaker thinks a future autonomous electric car might look like.

According to Volvo, the 360c concept "capitalises on the freedom in design" afforded by fully autonomous electric vehicles, as they would not need a steering column or reserve a large area for a combustion engine.

As such, the interior can be a lot more flexible, with the 360c's cabin capable of being arranged into either a mobile office, living room, entertainment area or sleeping quarters.

The automaker believes fully autonomous vehicles could reshape not only the auto industry, but have implications for city planning, humankind's environmental impact, help to reduce road fatalities, and eliminate a massive time sink in our lives.

In one use case, Volvo says autonomous cars could also challenge the short-haul airline industry. For destinations around 300 kilometres, such as New York to Washington, DC, or Sydney to Canberra, relaxing, working or sleeping in an self-driving car would be faster and more relaxing than going through all the modern airport rituals, such as security checks, delays, boarding and alighting.

Volvo has not provided any details about the 360c concept, such as its power, range or dimensions. Instead, Mårten Levenstam, the company's head of corporate strategy, says the 360c is intended as a "conversation starter".

“We do not know what the future of autonomous drive will hold, but it will have a profound impact on how people travel, how we design our cities and how we use infrastructure," Levenstam said in a prepared statement.

Håkan Samuelsson, CEO of Volvo Cars, said he wanted his company to lead the charge into this brave new world.

“Autonomous drive will allow us to take the big next step in safety but also open up exciting new business models and allow consumers to spend time in the car doing what they want to do," Samuelsson stated.