When Volvo set about designing its new compact SUV, the XC40, it didn't just think about how to make it better to drive and more comfortable, but also how to make it better at carrying stuff.

In their pursuit of increased cubic footage, auto makers can sometimes forget that more space isn’t the same as usable space. Volvo is doing its best, though, to design the XC40’s interior around usability.

To that end, the Swedes went around the world asking people what they stowed and what they couldn’t stow while they were driving. And it turns out that, helpfully, most the world is pretty similar.

“As we spoke to people about how and where they store the things they carry with them daily, it was quite clear that most of today’s cars are falling short in this area,” said Louiza Atcheba, 40 Series brand manager. “Phones slide around in the mid-console, takeaway bags are at constant risk of falling over and people fumble behind the wheel as they try to get service cards out of their wallets. We set out to solve these and many other issues we encountered.”



To solve these problems, Volvo took the speakers out of the doors, installed hooks on the glove box, created credit card slots and a “smart floor” to add enough space in the door for a laptop, create a place to hang a bag, and separate luggage. The brand has even added a garbage can to help keep things tidy.

And Volvo hasn’t just added all of these storage solutions at the last minute. Many of these features were designed into the structure of the car.

“When we designed the tunnel,” said Conny Ewe Blomme, Volvo’s Senior Design Manager, “the focus was not only on creating a nice design but also to ensure that cup holders can be used as cup holders and that the design itself provides areas for coins, cards or charging cables.”

All of these features are designed not just to make the interior of the XC40 nicer upon purchase, but for the life of the car, too.

“With the XC40, we declare the end of clutter, making sure that everything is within arm’s reach but also out of sight. It’s about clearing the clutter so you can clear your mind,” said Atcheba.