2000 Saturn CV1 concept rear side door compare

The picture above shows both of the open positions for the rear doors. I’m thinking their function is best compared to how some track-based closet doors open. The gallery pictures show much more detail.

Although it’s certainly innovative, it seems to me that the reward isn’t worth the effort in this case. It doesn’t provide the all-around clearance of a sliding door, found on some vans, and the claimed access advantages to passenger and loading spaces doesn’t seem to be there. Particularly when encumbered by the folding jump seats, visible above right. (In researching, I didn’t see anything indicating the jump seats were removable.)

2000 Saturn CV1 concept underhoodAnother set of neat little touches is found under the hood. Today, most of us are accustomed to seeing a lot of plastic instead of engine when we open a late model car’s hood. The CV1 has that characteristic but went a step further and created an easy-service area.

Located to the right side is a “Service Guide” with tabs that are color-keyed to oversized dipstick handles and caps to various fluids. There are also red LED lights next to the service points that quickly inform the curious of anything needing attention, and green lights to signal all is fine.

That engine, by the way, is a 2.2-liter four cylinder making 137 HP and 147 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels but it has only one forward gear, or maybe its better stated as having an infinite number of forward gears; that is, it has a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

To VUE or not to VUE, that is the question
2002 Saturn VUE profileSo what production model did Saturn have in mind when they created the CV1? According to statements made by designers at the time, none. Absolutely none.

I find that a little hard to believe when Saturn released their VUE for 2002, shown left. It looks remarkably similar to the CV1 (minus the rear closet doors). Even though Saturn had stated they intentionally didn’t tie their concept to a production-intent vehicle (in order to keep creativity unrestrained) the VUE appears to have derived directly from it.

After that, the all-new Ion sedan, shown below, came out for 2003 with some obvious CV1 traits. For instance, it gained (actually suffered from) the CV1’s dash-centered instrument panel, also shown below.

2003 Saturn Ion sedan and dash

One last thing I’d like to share about this concept. For the sake of making the CV1 as flexible as possible, the design team created four very distinct fictional “character icons” and kept them in mind throughout the entire design process. This meant meeting the icons’ daily needs and any special need of theirs that could arise.

The part I thought was sort of humorous was the depth of lifestyle that they factored in for the fictional characters. So, I like to introduce you to the four individual icons as described in some Saturn literature:

George – he is 55, runs an exotic pet store and enjoys playing golf and restoring vintage motorcycles. With their three children grown, he and his wife have moved into a loft above their business.

Liz – she is 42, a top-producing real estate agent with an active social/business networking life. Divorced with joint custody of two children aged 8 and 13, she enjoys gardening, art and computers.

Staci – she is 33, a housewife with two young children. She sometimes handles day-care for neighbors; has a large extended family living nearby and spends time on home improvement, country crafts and collecting dolls.

Adrian – he is 25, a computer consultant who shares an apartment with two roommates. He enjoys socializing with friends, skiing, mountain biking and Internet surfing.

Isn’t that hilarious? According to the literature, the designers would keep the customer icons in mind throughout the entire development process by asking themselves questions. For example:

“When George’s six grandchildren visit, how does he transport them?”

“When Adrian needs to transport his bike, how does he fit it in?”

I hope you enjoyed reading about Saturn’s first concept, and don’t miss the additional photos in the gallery.


Continue below to the photo gallery.

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