Volkswagen’s latest vision of the future is a “subtly wedged shaped” electric and autonomous concept vehicle that looks a little like the portable cassette boom box players of the 1980s. Either that or a canister vacuum—minus the attachment.
The fully autonomous concept is called Sedric—a combination of the words self-driving car—and has no pedals or steering wheel. The vehicle can be summoned with the push of a button and shuttle individuals to their destination, just like the human-operated services Uber and Lyft do today.
This is the first concept from Volkswagen Group (VLKAY), the parent company of brands that include Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Audi, Bentley, Skoda, and Porsche. The Volkswagen Group calls Sedric a “cross-brand ideas platform,” which is another way of saying this concept is a projection of its future strategy across the entire company.
Sedric signifies the importance of fully automated driving to the automaker, whether it’s in a wedged-shaped shuttle or a feature within a sports car that allows for human or robot control. It also shows a shift, or at least a desire to, from the traditional automotive business to one centered on unconventional ways of traveling beyond consumers buying a vehicle that they drive themselves.
The control button in Sedric hints at that interest. The button that summons the Sedric is linked to a universal mobility ID. This allows customers to switch between their own personal autonomous Sedric—under one of VW’s brands—to a shared vehicle in another city.
Keep in mind that Sedric is a concept; consumers won’t see this vehicle in their city anytime soon.
Volkswagen calls this the “father” of numerous concepts, which means aspects of the design will show up in future concepts and possibly even production vehicles.
“Many elements and functions of this concept car will reappear in vehicles from our brands in the coming years,” CEO Mattias Müller said in comments prepared for the Sedric’s unveiling ahead of the Geneva International Motor Show.
Volkswagen adopted in June 2016 its so-called 2025 strategy, a plan that involves restructuring the company’s core automotive business to focus more on electric vehicles and autonomous driving technology, boosting profit margins, and possibly selling some assets. The company plans to introduce more than 30 all-electric vehicles over the next 10 years, with a goal of selling two to three million of these EVs in 2025.
The 2025 strategy was introduced following the diesel emissions cheating scandal that erupted in 2015 and led to falling sales and ultimately losses as well as criminal fines and lawsuits.