Automotive

Sedric forms a canvas for the autonomous VW Group car of the future

Sedric forms a canvas for the ...
VW Group has deliberately throttled back the styling on the Sedric
VW Group has deliberately throttled back the styling on the Sedric
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Sedric is a clumsy conjunction of Self Driving Car
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Sedric is a clumsy conjunction of Self Driving Car
The cabin of the Sedric is designed to feel open and airy
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The cabin of the Sedric is designed to feel open and airy
VW Group has deliberately throttled back the styling on the Sedric
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VW Group has deliberately throttled back the styling on the Sedric
Users can hail a ride using this little button with Sedric
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Users can hail a ride using this little button with Sedric
A look at the cabin of the VW Group Sedric
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A look at the cabin of the VW Group Sedric
The Sedric imagines a world where drivers are no longer needed
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The Sedric imagines a world where drivers are no longer needed
The rear windscreen housing on the VW Sedric is home to a plant garden inside
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The rear windscreen housing on the VW Sedric is home to a plant garden inside
The Sedric is designed to be a welcoming environment for self-driving passengers
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The Sedric is designed to be a welcoming environment for self-driving passengers
The VW Group Sedric aims to clean the air with plants in the cabin
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The VW Group Sedric aims to clean the air with plants in the cabin
Sedric looks like a little brick
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Sedric looks like a little brick
The lounge-style seats on the VW Sedric
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The lounge-style seats on the VW Sedric

Although the Volkswagen Group has mastered the art of platform-sharing, the seven major car manufacturers under its umbrella go to great lengths to differentiate their vehicles from one another. Sure, the VW Golf and Seat Leon share the same basic chassis and engines, but those elements are wrapped in a very different exterior, and each is engineered by a different team. This attitude means all the brands under the umbrella have a unique feel. The latest concept to come from Volkswagen throws that approach out the window, acting as a platform for the whole VW Group to show off and develop its ideas about autonomy.

Think of it like automotive communism, a sharing economy designed to improve the car to tackle the, er, car-sharing economy manufacturers are expecting to develop in the future.

To that end, the Sedric (a clumsy conjunction of Self Driving Car) goes without distinctive styling, and it wears a Volkswagen Group badge on the nose. The designers suggest brands could adorn it with their own look if it made it to production, but for now the focus is on the technology.

That tech is all focused on making the passengers feel at home in the post-steering wheel world. Instead of seating five people on individual forward-facing seats, the cabin aims for a lounge-style design, with lots of light materials and open space. Tesla has turned to HEPA-grade filters to help occupants breathe easier, but VW thinks the answer lies in the garden bed positioned in the rear window – although a set of bamboo/charcoal air filters also ensure city smog doesn't make it into the cabin.

A look at the cabin of the VW Group Sedric
A look at the cabin of the VW Group Sedric

Once they're comfortably seated, passengers are able to tell the car where they want to go and it will respond like a personal assistant, giving information about traffic, drive time and potential breaks on the route. The front windscreen also helps the car communicate with its occupants, serving as an OLED screen capable of the communication and entertainment we expect of the infotainment systems in current cars (and more).

Not only will autonomy impact on the way we travel in cars, it's likely to change the way we buy them too. Everyone from Ford to Tesla envisions a future where owners let their self-driving cars run around during the day like self-driving taxis, more efficiently using the time usually spent sitting around in a garage to make money. Alternatively, we might not own cars at all, instead using subscription services for on-demand mobility.

While some manufacturers suggest using an Uber-style app to hail their cars, Sedric is accompanied by a car-key-sized button. Push the button and the keyring will tell you how far away the car is, before alerting the user their car is arriving using visual and physical cues. According to Volkswagen, this makes it easier for visually impaired or deaf riders to use the system.

Users can hail a ride using this little button with Sedric
Users can hail a ride using this little button with Sedric

Given this is just a concept designed to highlight what's possible with self-driving cars at the moment, Volkswagen hasn't revealed too much about the potential powertrains for Sedric. We know it would be electric, with batteries housed under the floor, but details about the propulsion system are otherwise scant. If the latest ID and ID-Buzz concepts are anything to go by, you can expect a range of 500 - 600 km (311 - 373 mi) from the car.

The VW Group Sedric concept is on display at the Geneva Motor Show, where New Atlas is on the ground covering all the action. Stay tuned for the latest.

Source: Volkswagen

5 comments
Mzungu_Mkubwa
I'm hard-pressed to understand why designers don't get it: human cognition naturally attempts to see recognizable and relatable features in forms and shapes around us. When we look at the front of cars, we naturally want to see a face in there somewhere, and we want that face to be pleasant, or at the very least have positive connotation. Why on earth would they make this lil' fella appear to be grimacing and sticking its tongue out like a spoiled Pokemon toon? Not gonna do well in the marketing studies, I gotta say. (Okay, maybe it'll score high in the 5-year-old Wiggles-watching demographic, eh?)
Charles S Roscoe
That is buut ugly!
Bob Flint
Basically a box on well hidden wheels, why? Aerodynamics at the anemic slug-like crawl that "Sedric" cannot comply, seems my wheels are clogged with slush, hey passenger 2 & 3 would you mind stepping out and pushing...
Douglas Bennett Rogers
This will start with the urban taxicab business and radiate out. Might also start with grocery and restaurant delivery. One big advantage--the user is relieved of accident liability.
ljaques
The VW bus is dead. Long live the VW bus. <sigh>