The self-driving, electric cars of the future will not hinder car designers, Volkswagen has said, but will instead open up new possibilities for fresh and radical styling.
Speaking on the eve of the Paris motor show, where the VW Group also unveiled plans to launch a new mobility sub-brand, the group's head of design, Michael Mauer, said styling will be a "key factor" in deciding which car brands survive in the future.
"The mobility world of tomorrow gives us designers entirely new creative possibilities," he said. "Electric drives and autonomous driving remove any obstacles and change design more radically than has been the case in recent decades."
Mauer also noted that because some of the defining characteristics of cars - for example, the sound of their engines - are not applicable with EVs, the design of the model becomes more important.
While saying that the VW Group could "adopt the role of a bold pioneer going forward", Mauer said that each VW brand needed to focus on its individual identity - something that has been promised as the group realigns itself in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal.
"In [the] future, too, it is not fitness for purpose but beauty that decides whether a car commands a top price at auction," said Mauer. "Some brands will forge ahead with design and technology and others will benefit from that, so we can adapt flexibly to the needs and developments. But that does not mean we will have uniform autonomous vehicles. The streetscape of the future will become even more varied, even more colourful, even more emotional."