Matt Kimberley 6 months ago 37
News

The Volkswagen Group Sedric Is the Humanised Autonomous Car That You Can Talk To

This is the first time any concept car has been badged with the Volkswagen Group, not a specific brand, and it marks the official start of a direct autonomy race with Google

Remind me later

Here’s an interesting thing. Not for its planned autonomous capabilities or its cartoon insect shape, but for the fact that it was developed by staff from multiple Volkswagen Group brands and is badged Volkswagen Group, not just VW.

Sedric is the VW Group’s equivalent of the hateful Google car, built from the ground up as an autonomous vehicle. Pretty self-explanatory when you consider the name: self-driving car. There’s no steering wheel, no driver and absolutely no driver enjoyment to be had, although maybe we’re being a bit unfair.

Senior Volkswagen execs at the Geneva show say it’s about urban mobility for people whose driving days might be over due to age or injury, or for those people for whom sitting in the back of a taxi involves too much forced cabbie chat.

Sedric is not meant to be sold to individuals. Instead, it will work on the principles already used by inner-city short-term car rental firms, using as few cars as possible but as often as possible, in an attempt to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and make one car sufficient for many people throughout the same day.

With a view to developing truly sustainable mobility solutions, Sedric would ideally be powered by renewable energy sources and be able to respond to online bookings automatically, arriving at the pick-up point and ferrying its passengers to their destinations.

Ultimately, the various mainstream VW Group brands will develop the car in their own ways with their own styling teams, but all will share the same humanised experience. Not only does it have a human name but it will also be interactive. Occupants will be able to ‘talk to Sedric’ about the destination, traffic conditions, estimated journey time and so on. It’s basically a Johnny Cab from Total Recall.

We can’t help but think there’s no way anyone could really love a vehicle like this, and if this is the direction we’re headed then it’s a real shame, but Jürgen Stackmann, the VW Group’s boss for sales and marketing, seems to think it’ll be more about urban mobility than the overall future for driving. Speaking to us at the Geneva Motor Show, he said:

“I believe it’s going to be a metropolitan concept. There is a huge pull on people for these zones, and these people need mobility. The car [as it is now] is a limitation. Congestion is a problem. Intelligent new ways of getting mobility for people in metropolitan zones - there is going to be a market.”