Error 404--Not Found

From RFC 2068 Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1:

10.4.5 404 Not Found

The server has not found anything matching the Request-URI. No indication is given of whether the condition is temporary or permanent.

If the server does not wish to make this information available to the client, the status code 403 (Forbidden) can be used instead. The 410 (Gone) status code SHOULD be used if the server knows, through some internally configurable mechanism, that an old resource is permanently unavailable and has no forwarding address.

Error 404--Not Found

Error 404--Not Found

From RFC 2068 Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1:

10.4.5 404 Not Found

The server has not found anything matching the Request-URI. No indication is given of whether the condition is temporary or permanent.

If the server does not wish to make this information available to the client, the status code 403 (Forbidden) can be used instead. The 410 (Gone) status code SHOULD be used if the server knows, through some internally configurable mechanism, that an old resource is permanently unavailable and has no forwarding address.

Global Viewpoints
Design roots

Peter Horbury with the Volvo C70 coupe.

Three cars from Volvo's past: the 445 Duett of the early 1950s; the 265 six-cylinder station wagon; and the P1800S of the 1960s, which demonstrated Volvo's ability to create stylish cars.

The styling of Volvo's ECC concept has influenced many recent Volvos.

The new Volvo V70 wagon.

The front structure and safety systems of the V70.

Dirk Van Braeckel of Rolls-Royce and Bentley.

The Rolls-Royce Corniche.

The Bentley Arnage Red Label.

It is a fact that the products of many car companies identify with their country of origin. A Volvo is "typically Scandinavian," a Bentley "typically British," a Citroen "typically French," and Fiats and Alfa Romeos "typically Italian." It would therefore be reasonable to expect that the design directors of these and similar companies would have been born, raised, and educated in the countries that, in a sense, their products represent. But that is not necessarily so. British-born Peter Horbury is Vice President and Chief Designer of Volvo, Belgian Dirk Van Braeckel is in charge of Rolls-Royce and Bentley design, while at Citroen American-born Art Blakeslee is about to retire as head of the company's styling studio, although a Frenchman, Jean-Pierre Ploue, now takes over. Until last year, American Peter Davis was Design Director of Fiat Auto. A Greek, Andreas Zapatinas, heads Alfa Romeo's Styling Centre.

Volvo and Peter Horbury

Why this is so is not altogether clear, but Volvo's Peter Horbury has a theory: "The reason why Volvo's products are maintaining their Swedish identity is that it often takes an 'outsider' (the company's Chief Designer—Colors and Trim is Mexican Jose Diaz de la Vega) to see what is unique, what makes them what they are. Swedes have grown up with it—and cannot spot it." How to define it? It is a combination of many things, including Sweden's historical approach to the car, he said.

"Function is everything—historically. Volvo is Swedish, and Swedish equates to function. Previously, that 'drove' everything at Volvo. If a farmer working in northern Sweden in an outside temperature of -40°C (-40°F) wearing gloves could climb into a Volvo and operate switches and those switches never failed, that was primarily what was wanted," Horbury explained.

"Volvo was—and is—all about safety, too. From pioneering three-point seat belts in the Amazon of 1959, we now have comprehensive systems, including airbag side curtains and anti-whiplash seats. However, we are selling cars to businessmen in Frankfurt, film directors in L.A., and lady drivers in Tokyo. They have a different set of rules, and to them, function and safety are not enough. They want style. And although switches still need to work in -40°C (-40°F) temperatures, they also need the right sort of tactility to be acceptable to customers other than just Swedish farmers."

Volvo is now part of Ford and is a member of its parent company's Premier Automotive Group. Horbury headed the team that created Volvo's latest product, the V70 station wagon, which is not, he insisted, a wagon iteration of the S80 sedan. It may use elements of the S80 platform, but it is dimensionally different. When the S80 was announced in 1998, it was made clear that there would not be a wagon version. "And there is not," insisted Horbury.

There was a time, he said, when Volvo sedans were almost a derivative of the wagon—"some shared components that made a good wagon but a compromised sedan." Now the company designs stand-alone sedans and then designs a wagon without compromising, he said.

Volvo has an unusual history in terms of the stylishness of its cars. In the 1960s, the P1800 sports coupe was certainly stylish, but in late 1966 the boxy 144 (the wagon was designated 145) was unveiled. Although developed as a tough and reliable workhorse, it arguably projected the message of its robustness too well for its own good and it was dubbed a "tank" by some critics. It was a double-edged description that was both flattering and negative.

Said Horbury: "It was rather like the philosophy that medicine is only good for you if it tastes awful; so some people felt that cars were only good, functional, and safe if they were not stylish. It was not enough, of course, and Volvo now endeavors to provide style without losing sight of Swedish functionality and safety. That is what makes it different; that is what brings identity. We can design cars now in a way we could not in the 1970s. At that time, it was thought that to achieve aerodynamic efficiency, the frontal area of the car had to lean back. Now we can achieve excellent aerodynamic efficiency with the automotive equivalent of a vertical wall."

But, said Horbury, Volvo sometimes gets "hate" mail from Swedish people accusing "this Englishman" of destroying Volvo's identity, taking it away from the square box it used to be and—to them—should remain. "So sometimes I am conscious of being an outsider, but I am happy to say there are far more messages from people who think we are getting the design right. We also maintain Volvo's basic design cues."

Horbury said it is possible to find cues in the S80 and new V70 wagon that are echoes of those from the PV445 wagon built in the 1950s and early 1960s, of the fine 120 series Amazon, and even that boxy 144 (145) and its aesthetically similar 244 (245 wagon) successor. There are distinctive and subtle curves, there is the V-shape of the hood, and the pronounced "shoulders" that are all elements of Volvo's DNA. Volvo's gas turbine hybrid concept of 1992, the ECC, had these cues and they were carried over into the S80 and the new V70 wagon.

But why, if Swedish design values are so important, does the company have a California design studio and is about to open another in Barcelona? Said Horbury: "Because designers need to meet and 'live with' their customers. You learn by being in California or Spain; you understand what people want. It has to be done."

A good car designer has to be an astute observer—of anything from the details of an F-16 fighter to modern furniture, but also of what is happening in the automotive market. "If you are not interested in what others are doing, then you don't see the progress in general ideas that can be picked out and developed further. A good designer doesn't need to know how to maintain or race a car. What is needed is a thorough knowledge of all aspects of the car market, to have a good historical sense and an appreciation of what went before—and to understand the industry. This will help companies find their own identity. Alfa Romeo, Renault, and BMW have achieved it, and Ford is doing so," Horbury said.

What is particularly important to Horbury is design that stands the test of time. To make the point, he produced a photograph of a simple wine glass designed and made in Sweden. "It could have been created this year," he said. "In fact it was designed in the early 1700s: functional, simple, and with quality."

Will there be a car that can be viewed in a similar way in 300 years time? Peter Horbury hopes so.

Volvo V70

Volvo's stylish new V70 wagon is based on its S80 sedan but is smaller; the company felt that for its worldwide markets, an S80 wagon would have been too large. Volvo's identity with wagons is arguably greater than with sedans. It began in 1953 with the PV445 (the sedan was designated 444), the first production example being delivered to Assar Gabrielsson, one of the founders of the Volvo company. The car was also called Duett. The P220 Amazon, launched at the Stockholm Motor Show in 1962, replaced this car. It was based on Volvo's 120 series sedan. After that came the boxy 145, produced from 1967 to 1974. Other wagons followed with, in recent years, more attention paid to creating a car of style, not just function. In 1995, Volvo introduced the "V" (for versatility) designation for wagons.

Although based on the same platform as the S80, each model was developed separately. Volvo set size targets for the car, which included an interior volume similar to that of main competitors but with an overall external length some 10 cm (3.9 in) shorter, which would bring torsional stiffness and reduced-weight advantages. To help meet the overall length target, bumper protrusion has been kept to a minimum. To achieve this, the radiator is "suspended in elastic elements," according to Volvo. In a low-speed frontal collision, it can spring backward without being damaged. Although the shaft of the tailgate wiper extends slightly beyond the bumper line, it is fitted with a spring to absorb any impact. The tailgate is vertical, which creates some torsional rigidity challenges but improves luggage space.

The focus on achieving high rigidity led Volvo to use bonding in some areas instead of spot welding. Being continuous, bonded joints offer enhanced torsional stiffness compared to spot welding. Overall length of the V70 is 4710 mm (15.5 ft), width is 1800 mm (5.9 ft), and wheelbase is 2760 mm (109 in). Maximum load length is 1085 mm (42.7 in) with the rear seat up; with the rear seat folded down, it is 1850 mm (72.9 in), and with rear seat and front passenger seat folded, it is 3098 mm (122 in). Luggage compartment height is 810 mm (31.9 in), and the width between wheel arches is 1130 mm (44.5 in).

Engine choice includes three five-cylinder gasoline units. The most powerful is the 2.3-L T5 with 186 kW (250 hp). Others are a 2.4-L light-pressure turbo and a 2.0-L turbo. The car's direct-injection turbodiesel has a capacity of 2.5 L. Five-cylinder naturally aspirated engines are slated to be added to the range, one of which will meet U.S. Ultra Low Emission Vehicle requirements. Volvo says it now upgrading all its power units. It says the upgrades are "so extensive that basically all moving parts are new." Improvements include CVVT (Continuous Variable Valve Timing), weight reduction, and reduced pumping losses. At present, only the 2.4-L light-pressure turbo uses smaller and lighter moving parts, but other turbo engines will be upgraded. Naturally aspirated engines have also been upgraded.

Transmission choice includes Geartronic, which combines automatic and manual shift regimes. Suspension includes MacPherson strut at the front with a lower link and anti-roll bar, while the rear uses a multi-link system with an anti-roll bar. Steering is rack and pinion. The ABS brake system employs ventilated discs at the front and solid discs at the rear and is fitted with EBD (electronic brake-force distribution).

The V70 has a distinctive design with prominent shoulder styling. Details include a foldaway facility in the luggage area to hold shopping bags. Safety systems include dual-stage (70 or 100% strength, depending on accident severity) front airbags. The new V70 is also said to be the first car in the world to offer a rear-facing child safety seat with Isofix attachments that can be used for any child up to three years old. For older children, a booster cushion is available.

Bentley and Dirk Van Braeckel

Dirk Van Braeckel is designing next-generation Bentleys. A Belgian, he worked for Audi before moving to Skoda to create the Octavia and Fabia ranges that are playing a major part in the revival of the long-established Czech company. "For me the move from Skoda to Bentley in 1999 was an extraordinary leap," he said. "It was difficult to believe!" Skodas are high-volume competitively priced family cars, whereas Bentleys are low-volume super-luxury models, but both are part of the Volkswagen Group.

Van Braeckel's experience at both Skoda and Audi (A3, A8, 80 Cabriolet, 80 Avant, plus motorsports projects including Trans Am and Pikes Peak) placed strong emphasis on costs. "Costs are a concern at Bentley, but in a different way," said Van Braeckel. "At Audi and Skoda, designers tended to develop a certain creativity to find ways around things. That sort of creativity I can apply at Bentley, too, but at a different level. It means that buyers of the car may get better value for the money because of this ability. The value that you can add to a design can be very considerable, and it should be remembered that good design costs no more than a not-so-good design."

Van Braeckel's priorities for Bentley design include enhancing its sporty image: "The sportiness of the car will be in the foreground in the future." For many years, Bentley and Rolls-Royce models were essentially the same, he said, with only relatively minor bodywork and trim details to differentiate them. But with BMW scheduled to build Rolls-Royces after 2002, VW Group-controlled Bentley can establish its own identity. "In the past it was an understated Rolls-Royce," he said. "But now that Bentley is breaking loose, we can focus on the core brand values that were initiated in the company's early days in the 1920s and 1930s at Le Mans. As 21st century designers, we need to pick up that emotion and make a muscular design statement—not a heavy looking car but a solid car, combining fundamental values with modern design."

At last year's Geneva Show, Bentley unveiled the Hunaudieres. "That was an extreme statement," said Van Braeckel. "It succeeded in achieving the company's intentions—to stir things up a bit, so people started to look afresh at Bentley and to consider how far the brand could be pushed. I think we may see some of the design cues and form language of that car on future models."

At the Detroit Motor Show this year, the new convertible Rolls-Royce Corniche was unveiled. It is probably the last new Rolls-Royce model before BMW takes responsibility for the marque at the end of 2002. Its styling is restrained and traditional. In coming years, Bentley will distance itself more and more from this type of car. "Bentley will be more generously sized than other sporty cars but we can imagine an additional range of smaller Bentleys. We will have two tiers," said Van Braeckel. "The smaller cars may sell at half the price of the larger." This would provide the VW Group with a linked spread of cars from its smaller models through the Audi A8 and the planned luxury VW sedan (the concept seen at Frankfurt last year) to Bentley.

VW has a strong platform sharing philosophy but Van Braeckel does not regard that as feasible for Bentley in the near future: "I think to a large extent we will have a dedicated Bentley platform. You must be careful at that level. But component sharing is another matter." Aluminum is a material used increasingly within the VW Group for bodies (Audi A8 and A2) and components. "I cannot say if we would have an aluminum-bodied Bentley, but the material will certainly be used on our cars," said Van Braeckel.

Later this year a new design facility is expected to be completed that will make a major contribution to plans for new Bentleys. "It will not be linked to other design centers in the VW Group in the sense that others will be doing work for us because it is one of my aims—as it was at Skoda—that design work is carried out in the country where the cars are produced. This is Crewe, England, so this is Bentley," Van Braeckel said. However, he can call on the VW Group's pool of design expertise and technology, as do other members of the Group: "There will be things on the VW shelves we can use, and we can benefit from development work that has been carried out," he added.

There is likely to be a mix of sedans, coupes, and convertibles from Bentley in the future. "If you are a sporting brand and want to maintain a sporting image, you have to design and produce convertibles," Van Braeckel said. However, he noted, Bentley's special position, weight, and aerodynamics remain important design criteria: "We need to stretch the comfort factor in terms of aerodynamic characteristics to the maximum, and of course they contribute to acceleration and top speed, so we will be looking for low Cd values." What form future Bentleys will take is not clear, but when questioned about cars of other manufacturers he admires, he included the A8 and the "emotional" aspect of Ferraris, the Porsche 911, the Mercedes-Benz SLK and, among classic cars, the Jaguar XKE.

The V70's dual-stage airbag system.

The Isofix rear-facing child seat installation in the V70.

Some VW Group design elements have already benefited Rolls-Royce and Bentley models. The rear floor of the Seraph and Arnage has been lowered slightly to give better leg room, a technique applied to Audi's A2. An interesting possibility is the eventual introduction of a turbodiesel Bentley. Noise is plainly a problem, but Bentleys are very much about torque, and the VW Group's diesel engines can meet the sort of levels that might be expected by Bentley customers. BMW has recently introduced a diesel V8 7 Series and Audi has a diesel V8 engine, as does Mercedes-Benz. Electric cars also have plenty of torque, but sources within the company regard a Bentley fuel-cell car as "at least" 12-15 years away.

Transmissions options now being considered include the use of CVTs (continuously variable transmissions). Audi recently announced a major CVT development the principle of which might be adapted for use on smaller Bentleys. Air springs are used in the VW Group and they could also find applications on future Bentleys. A benefit for Bentley of being within the VW Group is that suppliers will be more willing to meet its demands. In the past, the production run for a Bentley supplier was often too small and disruptive to make economic sense. But now the scale has changed. Also, production is planned to increase enormously. In 1998, 1600 Rolls-Royces and Bentleys were built. By 2005, 9000 Bentleys a year may be built.

The Bentley design and equipment tradition of leather and walnut will continue in the mold of the current 6.75-L Arnage Red Label. Senior members of the VW Group regard Bentley cars as already having the best surface quality of any vehicles in the world, but efforts will be made to improve body quality further, including the reduction of panel gaps. Increased investment is being made in manufacturing systems including more robots.

Stuart Birch

AEI April 2000

Error 404--Not Found

Error 404--Not Found

From RFC 2068 Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1:

10.4.5 404 Not Found

The server has not found anything matching the Request-URI. No indication is given of whether the condition is temporary or permanent.

If the server does not wish to make this information available to the client, the status code 403 (Forbidden) can be used instead. The 410 (Gone) status code SHOULD be used if the server knows, through some internally configurable mechanism, that an old resource is permanently unavailable and has no forwarding address.