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Volvo (deliberately) won’t have any cars at the LA auto show

‘This Is Not A Car’

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Automakers love making a big splash at auto shows, usually with swirling lights, loud dance music and a car that appears out of a smoke-filled cave. Whether it's a highly anticipated production vehicle or a concept car no one will ever get to drive, it's what these companies do. Not Volvo. Not this year, at least.

At AutoMobility LA (the fancy name for the LA Auto Show), Volvo won't have any cars at its stand. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Instead, folks will be greeted with a sign that states: "This Is Not a Car."

Uh ok.

Mårten Levenstam, head of product strategy at Volvo Cars said the bold statement is "to showcase the big changes that are going on and to stay on the core message."

That message is about all the technology and services that surround Volvo vehicles, from its Care by Volvo subscription service and Sensus infotainment system running on Android to its use of LiDAR. The automaker will instead have demos and have employees available to talk about what the company is up to.

"If we wanted to discuss these things and brought the cars, people would focus on the cars and not focus on those important things," said Levenstam. He's right. A new car is like a shiny object that will tear your attention away from someone trying to explain how LiDAR works.

Volvo - This is Not a Car

"It's clear we need to focus on the way the car is evolving, and there are big changes in our industry that people aren't aware of," Levenstam said. "We want to have a dialogue, and we want to learn from the discussion."

The evolution of what a car is and what it will be in the future continues to accelerate. Volvo just wants everyone to take a moment and talk about that and see what's happening to our personal transportation. Plus it fits in the AutoMobility theme of being the car show that's about tech. "We will not win the 'car of the show' award this year, but we are comfortable with that. Because this is not a car show," Levenstam said in a statement.

I asked Levenstam if he thinks the "This Is Not a Car" idea will be a success. His reply: "Check with me in two weeks."

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