The Volkswagen Group concept previews a hi-tech vision for the future of individual mobility into and beyond the next decade.
The Sedric, whose name is a portmanteau of “self-driving car”, is a pod-like four-seater. It has been developed as part of the Volkswagen Group's Together-Strategy 2025 programme as a foundation for a planned transformation of the company from a traditional engineering-led company to one specialising in integrated mobility services through its newly created Mobility Solutions division.
Billed as the first concept car to be developed as a cross-brand ideas platform within the Volkswagen Group, the new concept has been created as a solution to providing intuitive individual mobility in a universally usable vehicle with an easily understandable control concept.
The Sedric also explores how the car will exist in a shared economy, being conceived to be used within a sharing platform for use by multiple users. It is credited to a trio of high-ranking Volkswagen Group officials: Michael Mauer, head of design; Johann Jungwirth, chief digital officer and Ulrich Eichhorn, head of research and development.
Conceived to dovetail with the Volkswagen Group’s recent investment in the mobility service provider Gett and the establishment of its own in-house mobility service provider Moia, the Sedric brings together future mobility ideas being pursued throughout the Volkswagen Group in a compact concept that does away with traditional proportioning and interior design, including features such as a steering wheel and pedals.
In their place is a smoothly surfaced one-box interior with a roomy four-seat, lounge-like interior. The Sedric has speech-controlled propulsion via an electric motor sited within the rear axle delivering around 134bhp and driven by a lithium ion battery pack mounted within the flat floor. This provides a claimed range of around 250 miles.
At the heart of the Sedric is a highly contemporary autonomous driving system that draws on Level 5 technology being developed by the Volkswagen Group for use on driverless cars planned for launch after 2020. It uses five individual lidar (light, image, detection and ranging scanner) devices mounted atop the Sedric’s roof in combination with seven cameras and various radar sensors.
Linking the new concept with its user is a so-called mobility controller, which Jungwirth describes as the key fob of the future, dubbed OneButton. With one press, the controller hails the Sedric, displaying its arrival time with coloured signals as well as a vibration signal designed specifically to guides a person with impaired vision to the car.
The Volkswagen Group describes its new mobility concept as the “father of numerous concepts” already under development, suggesting it will also get “children and grandchildren” within the Volkswagen Group's portfolio of brands, which includes Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Seat and Skoda.
Development of the Sedric took place at the Volkswagen Group’s Future Centre Europe in Potsdam, Germany following a greenlight to the program from the company’s chairman, Matthias Müller, in May 2016. It draws on mobility and propulsion ideas first presented by the Volkswagen Group at last year’s Geneva motor show.
Speaking at the Volkswagen Group's traditional pre-show event, Müller said: "Tge Sedric is a foretaste of automated vehicles at the highest stage of automation. The Sedric independently controls all driving functions, and it has been systematically developed to meet user’s needs. You talk it as you would to your personal assistant. All of the controls are voice controlled. And you choose whether the Sedric goes the fastest, eco-friendly or a scenic route. It drops you off at your location and then drives off to find a parking space or go to the next person in need of transportation.
"The Sedric creates a feeling of plenty of space, like a lounge on four wheels. It makes autonomy fun."
Commenting on the fact that the Sedric is the first ever concept car to come from the Volkswagen Group, Müller said that although the concept "stands for a new self-image" of the group as "an incubator for ideas", the group will not build its own cars in the future, instead leaving that to its various brands.
However, Müller did confirm that elements from the Sedric will appear in cars from the VW Group brands in the coming years as they move forwards with autonomous vehicles.
VW chairman Herbert Diess said at the brand's Geneva presentation "As you can see the VW brand is on the move, and we are re-aligning the brand to be more competitive. We will grow, increase market segment, grow profits, and we will be back in North and South America.
"The Volkswagen brand is coming back."