Volkswagen has introduced its own self-driving concept at the Geneva Motor Show, a blend of ride-hailing and ride-sharing without a steering wheel, pedal, or brake.
The concept car, named Sedric, is a four seat mini-shuttle with Level 5 automated driving capabilities. That means it will be totally autonomous, with no human override controls.
Riders need only push a button to call Sedric, according to Volkswagen. Once inside a voice recognition service finds out where the rider wants to go. The glass windows, which are OLED displays, can be set to display backgrounds or play movies.
Volkswagen is painting the picture of Sedric as an all-purpose “mobility” vehicle, the current buzzword used by automakers. It wants the self-driving car to be able to drive you to work, pick up the kids, and grab the shopping while you’re away.
Like most automakers, Volkswagen is avoiding the elephant in the room: car ownership. It does say customers will be able to ride solo in Sedric, but also said riders would be able to get a lift even in a different city: “Sedric is a vehicle which will be moving around in cityscapes, in the suburbs and in the countryside.”
That flexibility is not possible, unless Volkswagen is preparing a ride-sharing service where a customer can hire cars across the globe for no additional cost.
It won’t say it directly, possibly for fear of backlash, but Volkswagen clearly wants to move away from a strict ownership model to a more flexible hailing and sharing model, where the customer continues to pay for a service rather than one lump-sum payment.
Volkswagen has said that Sedric is the “Father” of concepts from the company, and we should expect children and grandchildren before we get to the commercialization stage. That might be why the German automaker is keeping the details about the car as ambiguous as possible, because at this point anything could change.