"VW's desire for rehabilitation shouldn't overshadow its cars"

It seems odd for Volkswagen to focus on an improbable autonomous future when its line-up of Geneva stars is so promising, says Graham Hope

There are always a lot of words spoken at a motor show, and at Geneva last week two of the phrases I heard repeatedly were “autonomous driving” and “mobility solutions”.

At a preview event that I attended on the eve of the show, VW Group execs spoke at length about an acceleration towards a self-driving future where bland-looking pods whisk us about from A to B.

The benefits were endless; the disabled will be mobilised, there will be fewer car parks (and so more green space) and more than a million lives could be saved each year due to the reduction in accidents caused by human error. Sounds great, doesn’t it? 

"Eye-watering R&D spending can really pay off"

And that, to me, is the problem. It sounds Utopian, particularly from a company desperate to reshape its image following the Dieselgate debacle. While contrition is admirable, it all sounded a little improbable, and seemed unworthy of so much focus when there was so little detail. If you were being unkind, you might even suggest it was a little cynical from a firm seeking public redemption.

Bugatti Chiron - Graham Hope

When you factor in current public desire for fully autonomous vehicles – “zero appetite at present” according to an exec from a rival company – it seemed a particularly odd area to lavish attention on. 

The Group’s cars at Geneva were introduced as an afterthought, which was puzzling really as the diversity and sheer quality of what it had to display at the show itself was quite extraordinary.

"New car tech is only good if you can actually use it"

There was the genuinely funky VW T-Cross Breeze, concept, a surefire sales hit in the Audi Q2,fascinating SUVs from SEAT and Skoda, more thrilling Porsche sports cars and the outrageous Bugatti Chiron hypercar. It was a stunningly impressive portfolio. 

Audi Q2 - Geneva show side

Despite its travails, the VW empire is still setting benchmarks other manufacturers would love to match and I think the men who run it would do well to remember that, rather than focus on a future that, to the average buyer, looks very distant indeed.

What do you think of Volkswagen's future? Let us know below!

Recommended

Geneva Motor Show 2021 cancelled
News

Geneva Motor Show 2021 cancelled

The 2021 Geneva Motor Show has been cancelled due to financial hardship and poor manufacturer response
30 Jun 2020
Geneva Motor Show
Geneva Motor Show

Geneva Motor Show

Welcome to our Geneva Motor Show hub page, scroll down for all our Geneva content...
28 Feb 2020
New 2020 McLaren 765LT: price and specs confirmed
McLaren 765LT

New 2020 McLaren 765LT: price and specs confirmed

McLaren 765LT is the latest Super Series flagship has an output of 755bhp and a starting price of £280,000 – but every example has already been sold
24 Sep 2020
New 2020 Hyundai i30 facelift: UK prices and specifications revealed
Hyundai i30

New 2020 Hyundai i30 facelift: UK prices and specifications revealed

The Hyundai i30 lineup receives revised styling, improved infotainment and mild hybrid powertrain options
24 Sep 2020

Most Popular

New 2021 BMW M3 launched with huge grille and 503bhp
BMW 3 Series M3 Coupe

New 2021 BMW M3 launched with huge grille and 503bhp

The new sixth-generation BMW M3 Competition saloon gets a 503bhp straight-six engine and four-wheel-drive
22 Sep 2020
New 2020 Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV revealed with up to 323 miles of range
Volkswagen ID.4

New 2020 Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV revealed with up to 323 miles of range

The new Tiguan-sized Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV becomes VW’s second ID. model, rivalling the Tesla Model Y
23 Sep 2020
New Range Rover Velar PHEV launched with 33-mile electric range
Land Rover Range Rover Velar

New Range Rover Velar PHEV launched with 33-mile electric range

Land Rover has given the Range Rover Velar an update, with a new plug-in hybrid powertrain and an improved infotainment system
23 Sep 2020