The automotive market may be picking up, but manufacturers are always trying to come up with new ideas to sell their vehicles.
Let’s face it, the average car showroom is a pretty clinical affair: polished floors, a couple of desks and a plethora of new cars parked at an “attractive” angle to entice customers to walk around them.
Some now also have comfy seating, a television and a coffee machine – but you wouldn’t usually visit a showroom unless you were thinking of buying a new car, and you don’t usually hang around once the ‘business’ is done.
But what attracts you to a particular showroom in the first place? Probably you did a bit of homework and narrowed possible choices down to perhaps three or four marques and then you go to see what deal you can get – and hopefully you also test drive the main possibilities.
Suppose, though, that you went through the showroom doors to do something that had nothing whatsoever to do with motoring. That is the thinking behind a new initiative being undertaken in three cities by Volvo Car UK, which is set to help residents ‘escape the city’ with new pop-up studios.
The Swedish car giant is bringing a Scandinavian sanctuary to three of the UK’s busiest cities, “offering members of the public a retreat from the stresses and strains of daily life”.
Naturally, there is method in this madness: visitors also get the chance to see the new Volvo XC60 ahead of its launch later this year.
The ‘Escape the City in your City’ pop-up studio opened on Edinburgh’s popular Castle Street from Tuesday 18th to Friday 21st April, offering a selection of relaxing and complimentary 30-minute sessions, including yoga, Swedish massage, meditation, art classes and guided run clubs.
It is heading south to Manchester’s city centre destination, Spinningfields, from Monday 24th to Sunday 30th April, and the last city escape will be located in Canary Wharf, one of London’s major business districts, from Tuesday 2nd to Friday 5th May.
For those who want to explore each city beyond their everyday routes, Volvo will also be providing free-of-charge cycle hire throughout each event.
Says Volvo: “Taking design cues from Scandinavian architecture to create a warm and intimate environment, the multifunctional space will also display Volvo’s long-awaited new XC60 premium SUV before it arrives at dealerships later this year. With a beautifully designed, clutter-free cabin featuring natural materials and a 9.0-inch touchscreen, the XC60 will provide a relaxing and welcoming space for all its occupants, wherever the car may be”.
Jon Wakefield, Managing Director, Volvo Car UK, said: “As a human-centric company, we want to reinforce the importance of taking time out of our busy schedules. Much like the interior of the new Volvo XC60, our pop-up studio will provide people with a calm, relaxing space to escape the rigours of city life.”
Completely free of charge, the sessions take place throughout each day between 07:00 and 19:00, and all are designed “to leave you feeling truly rejuvenated” – all you have to do is sign up.
If you will be in the UK on the specified dates, you might want to find out more about the experiences on offer, and to register your interest in a free activity session; if so, visit www.volvocars.com/uk/about/our-company/news/events
This is all part of Volvo’s 90th anniversary celebrations: the new XC60 mid-size SUV will leave the factory 90 years to the month after the first-ever Volvo, the OV4, saw the light of day on 14th April 1927.
This first Volvo sold a total of 275 vehicles in its lifetime, which was modest even in those days. The new XC60, however, replaces one of the best-selling models in the brand’s history: the original XC60 became something of a phenomenon, with sales climbing every year since it was introduced in 2008. Seven years after it was revealed, it became the bestselling premium mid-sized SUV in Europe, and in its ninth year it is still the best seller.
Today the current XC60 represents around 30 per cent of Volvo’s total global sales, and this month the number of original XC60s produced will surpass one million.
“Volvo is very proud of its history. The past 90 years have been exciting, but the 10 years left until the 100-year anniversary may come to be more exciting as industry focus shifts to autonomous driving, electrification and connectivity,” says Hakan Samuelsson, chief executive of Volvo Cars. “The new XC60 is in many ways the embodiment of these trends.”
Volvo says the new XC60 is one of the safest cars ever made and offers the latest in safety technology, including the new Oncoming Lane Mitigation system, which uses Steer Assist to help mitigate head-on collisions.
Volvo’s semi-autonomous driver-assistance system, Pilot Assist, which takes care of the steering, acceleration and braking on well-marked roads at up to 130 km/h, is available in the new XC60 as an option.
Volvo’s founder, Assar Gabrielsson, saw an opportunity for car manufacturing in Sweden after having observed the growing auto industries in the US and Europe from his position in sales at the Swedish ball bearing maker SKF, a supplier to the car industry.
Pointing towards Sweden’s readily accessible steel, cheap labour and skilled engineers, he managed to convince SKF to invest in a spin-off car business called AB Volvo.
The first mass-produced Swedish car was quite a conventional vehicle, with elements of American car design, a wooden frame made of ash tree and beech, a 1.9-litre side-valve engine and artillery wheels with wooden spokes.
Only one colour combination was available: dark blue with black fenders.
By 1932 the company had produced 10,000 cars, but there were demands for a more inexpensive vehicle and, in 1936, the PV51 was launched. By the end of 1944 one of Volvo’s most significant cars – the PV444 – was introduced; this was the company’s first small car, and it was an immediate success, along with the PV544 it dominated Volvo production through to the mid-1960s.
The Volvo 120 was introduced in 1956, and in 1959 both the 120 and the PV544 were equipped with three-point safety belts – a world first and an invention pioneered by Volvo’s head of safety engineering, Nils Bohlin.
The P1800 became a sixties icon as Roger Moore’s car in the TV series The Saint, and the company went from strength to strength with the 140 (later replaced by the 240) and the smaller 340.
The 700 series and 400 series followed in the 80s. The 1990s saw the introduction of the 850, Volvo’s first front wheel drive executive car, and the S40 and V40 as well as the C70 and S80.