Ever safety-minded, Volvo has come up with a concept car in which a child seat takes the place of the front passenger seat, according to news reports. The front child seat swivels to face the rear seat, and can swivel towards the door to make it easier to get a baby into or out of the car, said Tisha Johnson, chief designer of interiors at Volvo Cars Concept and Monitoring Centre, as Chris Woodyard writes for USA Today.
Woodyard quotes Johnson: “We started by asking ourselves if we could make life easier for parents and safer for their children when it comes to the child seat experience.” Woodyard notes that if such a concept were available on the market, it could face problems in the United States, as many states require that children ride in the rear seat.
However, on its Facebook page, in response to such concerns from commenters, Volvo writes:
[F]rom a safety perspective there is no difference between the rear seat or front seat, given that the airbag is disconnected. Knowing that the main reason for US, Australia and other countries to not allow babies in the front seat is due to the frontal passenger airbag, and that this concept can ensure that the airbag always will be disconnected when the concept is in the car, Volvo Cars are interested to take up a discussion with the authorities in concerned countries to hear their opinion and look over possible solutions.
The child seat, which is shown in a modified Volvo XC90 SUV, sits on a pedestal, writes Shelly Banjo for Quartz. Facing the rear of the car is the recommended position for children under age 4, she writes. Volvo says that small children need to face the rear of a car because their heads are disproportionately large in relation to their bodies, and because they lack muscular strength in their necks, writes Jordan Golson for Wired.
Volvo writes on its Facebook page that rear-facing is the safest position for children traveling in a car. This concept car’s child seat’s console is “rigidly fastened to the floor,” and the seat will stay in position in the event of a car accident, Volvo writes. The carmaker adds that when cars with this child seat are in production, a design solution would be to include a safety mechanism that locks the seat into a rear-facing position so that the car will not be able to drive unless the seat is locked.
Volvo answers another commenter’s questions by saying that the idea for the child seat is that a parent can remove it from the console and carry it. And once the child is older and the parents have no need for the seat, it could be removed and replaced with a standard passenger seat, Volvo writes.