Volkswagen unveiled a concept driverless car which it is describing as a “comfortable lounge on wheels”, equipped with a voice assistant like Apple’s Siri and a windscreen that serves as a massive TV.
Sedric is the name of Volkswagen’s concept and it was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show on Monday.
The German automaker laid out its vision about how Sedric will be part of a Volkswagen fleet able to be hailed via a smartphone app like Uber.
“Sedric will drive the children to school and then take their parents to the office, look independently for a parking space, collects shopping that has been ordered, picks up a visitor from the station and a son from sports training – all at the touch of a button, with voice control or with a smartphone app – fully automatically, reliably and safely,” the company said in a press release.
But it could also be owned by individuals. The idea of automakers owning fleets of vehicles in a sort of shared ownership model that are able to be hailed instantly has taken off in recent times. In November, Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen told CNBC, that the carmaker is working on its own shared ownership model and ride hailing capabilities. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also laid out a similar vision.
Volkswagen said Sedric can recognize users with the doors opening automatically. When passengers enter the car, they can talk to an in-built virtual assistant to tell the vehicle where to go or even put on music or other entertainment. The windscreen is a large screen with “augmented reality”.
The car doesn’t have classic features like a bonnet, but instead, it’s an electric vehicle with the motor located at the level of the wheels. Sedric’s interior is described as a “comfortable lounge on wheels” by Volkswagen, with birch leather used for upholstery. It is also equipped with “air-purifying plants”.
Concept cars are usually shown off to highlight a company’s future thinking and they may not necessarily be made. All automakers are researching what the future car might look like as well as how vehicle ownership may change.
Volkswagen in particular is keen to show it can innovate and be relevant following the carmaker’s emissions cheating scandal which has left it facing hefty fines. The German firm’s chief executive told CNBC on Monday that the brand is finding it difficult to plot a course for the future amid competition and litigation.
“I would love to tell the investors they should indeed stay calm and can stay calm… we are very confident that we are in good shape as a company,” Matthias Mueller, chief executive of Volkswagen, told CNBC via a translator on Monday.
“But indeed the Volkswagen brand is struggling to find its way in the future.”