There are some cars we wished automakers offered in left-hand drive (LHD) configuration. Doing so would allow some hopeful enthusiasts to import them into the country legally without having to deal with converting them to right-hand drive (RHD) to left-hand drive. But that's not the case, and we will have to accept it. Fortunately, it seems there might be a way to address the issue of LHD and RHD, and Volvo has shown us how.
The Swedish automaker has recently filed a patent at the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a steering wheel that can slide from left to right. According to the patent, the steering wheel and instrument cluster will be mounted on rails that run the length of the dashboard, allowing it to move.
What about the steering rack and column? Well, it seems Volvo will be taking advantage of new drive-by-wire technology for it to work. It means there is no longer any mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the rack. For reference, Nissan uses the same technology in the current-generation Skyline and Infiniti Q50.
Interestingly, Volvo’s patent does not include sliding pedal boxes. Instead, the automaker suggested using pressure-sensitive pads or sensors located in both footwells. The pads would then activate depending on where the steering wheel is located. Furthermore, the automaker adds that the sliding steering wheel could offer more space in future vehicles when combined with autonomous-driving technology.
What’s great about Volvo’s patented steering wheel is that the automaker can sell vehicles in both left- and right-hand drive markets without needing modifications. From the patent images, it seems drivers could even sit in the center of the vehicle similar to the McLaren F1.
There is no official word whether Volvo plans to put their sliding steering wheel into production. It is quite common for automakers to submit patents in order to protect their ideas, whether or not they will put them to use. Other automakers could also take advantage of a similar design for their future models. Not only will they save on cost, but it could also lead to more models being available to more countries.
What do you think of Volvo’s concept of a steering wheel that slides from left to right and back? Should other automakers do the same? Let us know in the comments.