As we move into this era of “mobility” and “autonomy” and “people favoring screens over going and doing stuff” (which is understandable when the screens have better resolutions than your actual eyesight), automakers are ditching auto shows. Auto shows are so yesterday, in fact, that Volvo’s attending the one in LA later this month for the sole purpose of displaying nothing.
No, that’s not a joke. The automakers are just plain screwing with us now and they’re spending time, money and other resources to do it. We are a game and the brands are playing us harder than your undefeated uncle whose Scrabble skills don’t subside, no matter how drunk he gets at the holidays.
Volvo has chosen to play us this time during the press and trade days at the LA Auto Show, which take place next week before the show opens to the public and are for people like us car bloggers to blog about the cars there. The show decided to call those days “Automobility LA” this year to allude to more than just cars, as the auto industry transitions from driving cars to riding inside of automated pods. (Fully autonomous vehicles are decades out at best, remember.)
And wowee, did Volvo take that seriously. The company announced Wednesday that it’ll show up to the LA Auto Show with no cars at all. Volvo wants to make it so obvious that it’s not bringing any cars to the show, it actually commissioned someone to build a display saying “This is not a car,” just so there’s no confusion amongst the crowd about whether the strange display in Volvo’s corner of the world is or is not a car.
After scrolling up and looking at the photo again, it definitely would have been hard to tell whether that was a car or not without the words. Three cheers for the English language always clearing things up.
Volvo’s using the display to “demonstrate its vision” of “redefining what a car can be,” and to call attention to things like its technology for connectivity, in-car delivery, car sharing, autonomous driving and its Care by Volvo subscription service, which we’ve heard is an absolute mess.
All of that is because the experience of a car brand is now “more important than chrome, leather or horsepower” (this sounds like a good memo for the leather-jacket overload on Top Gear), Volvo said. From the press release:
Since motor shows were introduced, the car has always been a centrepiece, on a rotating stage or covered under a silk sheet. Yet cars are changing, the industry is changing and so are the expectations of people who use cars. Volvo at Automobility LA reflects these changes.
“Our industry is changing. Rather than just building and selling cars, we will really provide our customers with the freedom to move in a personal, sustainable and safe way,” said Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive of Volvo Cars. “We offer our customers access to a car, including new attractive services whenever and wherever they want it.”
There were also plenty of other aspects of this press release that wouldn’t make you want to slam your head into the nearest wall, like the non-sarcastic use of the phrases “disruption affecting our industry” and “instead of bringing a concept car, we talk about the concept of a car.”
And that’s when you conveniently excuse yourself to use the restroom.