Whatever the merits of VW’s futurologist Johann Jungwirth and his far-sighted predictions for mobility of the future – as laid out during last night’s Geneva motor show preview event – his arrival is coinciding with a significant behind-the-scenes design shake-up at Europe’s biggest car maker.
Speaking to new VW Group design chief Michael Mauer, it’s clear the challenge for VW is to keep its design lead – particularly in interiors – while coping with new technologies that will render cockpit dials, switches and even the steering wheel redundant.
“We will have a completely different structure to the interior of the car of the car of the future and we have to start now. This is the nature of disruptive technologies,” he says.
Jungwirth, a Silicon Valley import, is a keen supporter of the “end-of-the-steering-wheel” theme, which will completely change the architecture of the autonomous car’s interior.
“Will we need an airbag?” asks Mauer, “and if we do, where will we fit it? We just don’t know the answers to these questions yet.”
For the time being, this is still a philosophical question. The first VW Group battery-electric vehicle will be the Porsche Mission E, held up by Jungwirth at last night’s presentation as the “future of VW Group”, and Mauer is pretty sure that at launch in 2019, it will have a steering wheel.