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Volvo Monitoring & Concept Center: We don’t predict the future, we create it
17 May 2004
More than just a styling studio, Volvo Car Corporation's Monitoring & Concept Center (VMCC) in California develops conceptual and finished products by merging holistically the core skills of design, technology and business development.
Minus all hoopla, Volvo has gathered together a small team of innovative design, technology and business thinkers in southern California, charged with developing groundbreaking automobile concepts and products.
"The goal of the VMCC since its establishment in 1986 has been to look for concepts in new places, put together smart ideas and turn them into action, helping Volvo Cars grow in today’s tough auto market," says Doug Frasher, strategic design chief at the Volvo Cars think-tank. "We aim to distinguish ourselves by seeing the Big Picture beyond design or style alone."
To achieve its aims, VMCC has developed a three-legged solutions-driving approach integrating business, design and technology skills that sets it apart from the other California-based styling studios of Volvo’s competitors. VMCC’s holistic approach involves making sense of the myriad technological, social, demographic, environmental, brand and design trends shaping society.
Geza Loczi, Director of Design at VMCC, says today ‘all design studios are striving to emulate’ what Volvo is doing. "The big difference," he says, "is that we were first as well as our ability, power and breadth of approach to do things in a non-traditional way. It’s about getting out of the comfort zone."
The secret behind the Volvo Monitoring & Concept Center is the way it encourages its unique partnership of designers, engineers and business-growth experts. By leveraging the power of each individual, VMCC believes it puts Volvo Cars in a better position to develop future-proof solutions that will withstand the test of time.
"Because we need to be both rational and emotional in our thinking, the strategic imperative of the 20 or so people working for VMCC is about being market-driven, not product-driven," adds Geza Loczi, with VMCC since the beginning.
He says you cannot have a great car if you don’t have a good technical product geared to meet the functionality needs of customers: "For VMCC, it is not the individual components of the car that counts, but the combined orchestrated effect."
The mold-breaking approach to designing a new car, which starts with monitoring information about what trends may influence how the world looks in 10, 20 or 30 years, has already resulted in a series of tangible vehicles. VMCC lays behind such innovative Volvo cars as the XC90, Volvo’s entry into the world of SUV’s, the S80 sedan, the top-selling S60, the eye-catching Safety Concept Car (SCC) and the Environmental Concept Car (ECC).
"The true test is whether any of our ideas gain traction in the real world, so it’s gratifying to see many of our original concepts being driven by happy customers as finished products in Europe, Asia and North America," says Doug Frasher.
He adds: "Our bottom-line mission is to broaden Volvo Car’s customer base. We do that by being totally open to new ideas based on business-driving approaches. This enables us to drive development and create, rather than predict, the future."
Volvo Cars has provided unprecedented autonomy to its monitoring and concept center, allowing the staff to fully exploit the three legs of strategic innovation in generating future products. In a world where car owners are spoilt for choice, Volvo believes there is ongoing need to constantly look for ‘the next big thing’.
Geza Loczi says: "It is about taking advantage of VMCC’s knowledge-base of multiple skills, cross-pollinating the different disciplines and capitalizing on the findings to achieve a clear sight line into the future."
Volvo Car Corporation sold 415.000 cars in 2003 in more than 100 markets globally. Making cars since 1927 and employing 28,000 people, Volvo Car Corporation is a member of the Ford Premier Automotive Group.