by Mish

Not Cedric, Sedric… The Volkswagen Group has taken us from the Beetle to the Golf and it soon might take us somewhere very, very boring with the new Sedric concept car.

The pod-like high-tech vision of future mobility doesn’t even have a steering wheel, thanks to its Level 5 autonomous driving systems, and is the strongest statement yet from Volkswagen’s ‘Together Strategy 2025’ program.

The Sedric is crammed full of the thinking Volkswagen believes it will need to transform itself from an engineering-driven car company today into an across-the-board integrated mobility services organization.

Shown at a limited-access media presentation last night prior to the Geneva motor show, the Sedric is a development prototype of a different kind for the Volkswagen Group. Instead of engineering and building new hardware pieces and swapping them in, the idea of the Sedric is to allow all the brands in the Group to explore how their mobility concepts could work in the real world.

The BEV’s (battery electric vehicle) control systems are said to be simple to understand and use, which will allow it to conceptually slip effortlessly into car-sharing networks for multiple users.

Sedric brings in speech-controlled driving, with voice commands governing the car’s throttle systems. There are no pedals, nor steering wheel!

Beneath the floor, the Sedric uses a lithium-ion battery pack with enough capacity to move the car for around 400km, Volkswagen claims.

It’s driven by a 100kW electric motor on the rear axle, making it at least philosophically similar to the original Beetle, but going fast for drivers is not at its heart.

It uses five LIDAR (light, image, detection and ranging) scanners on its roof and a bunch of other radars and scanners to give it 360-degree views of the world around it. It also uses real-time, 5G connections to give it millimeter-accurate HERE digital maps to deliver the Sedric enough accurate data to move to Level 5 full autonomous driving.

Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller admitting the company was spending billions on artificial intelligence and negotiating with governments on legislation for autonomous driving.

“[There are] not just technical but legal and political hurdles. We need to find answers to difficult moral questions, but there will be solutions,” he said.

The Group’s plan is to begin launching driverless cars after 2020, starting with Level 4 technologies.

It’s also governed by a key fob that Jungwirth praises as the “key to the future”. Pressing its button calls a Sedric to come to you, with its arrival time displayed on the key.

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Sedric has some nice concepts packaged a damn ugly looking box. What’s with those wheel covers that go to the ground?

That thing would not survive Chicago pot holes let alone gravel roads. Nonetheless, Sedric gives a nice hint at some of the things car companies are working on.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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