Volkswagen looks ahead – far ahead – to the future of commuting. The company traveled to the Chantilly Arts & Elegance show near Paris, France to present an electric van concept car which has Level 5 autonomous driving technology.
No matter what you think a Volkswagen should look like, it’s not. The concept breaks all ties with the company’s design language and instead adopts a very futuristic look that would fit right in at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Notably, it’s not labeled as a Volkswagen in the same sense that GTI or ID.Buzz; it bears “Volkswagen Group” emblems on both ends, not VW the logo.
The exterior design is more functional than it might seem. For example, the window line is relatively low so that passengers can have a good view of the outside world when they are seated, yet it is high enough so that passengers can sleep without being disturbed by their surroundings.
Speaking of the cabin, the flap-like doors open up to reveal a four-seat interior that users can configure in a variety of ways. When they’re traveling on business, they can turn Gen.Travel into a conference room with two rows of seats facing each other and a table in the middle. Alternatively, the two seats can be folded into beds for overnight trips. Augmented reality technology keeps kids entertained on the go, a restraint system keeps passengers safe even when they’re lying down, and ambient lighting affects melatonin production.
Volkswagen had little to say about what was under the sheet metal. All we know at this stage is that the Gen.Travel is fully electric and equipped with an active suspension system called Electric Active Body Control (eABC), which is said to improve comfort. No word yet on where the autonomous technology is coming from, but Volkswagen has is actively working on experimental autonomous vehicles with Argo AI.
Don’t expect a Gen.Travel-like transfer the next time you head to the airport. Volkswagen Group head of design Klaus Zitzera notes that the concept “offers a glimpse into the future of travel,” but there’s no indication that this van-sedan hybrid will soon go into production. “As a research vehicle, Gen.Travel aims to test the concept and new functionality for customer responsiveness. Based on the results of the research, individual functions may later be transferred to production cars,” explained Volkswagen.