Advertisement

"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.

Advertisement - Article continues below

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!

Advertisement
Advertisement

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 car sales reach 145,000 in June as dealers reopen
News

New car sales reach 145,000 in June as dealers reopen

New car registrations were down 34.9 per cent year-on-year in June 2020, with showrooms having reopened to customers
6 Jul 2020
Six-month MoT extension ends on 1 August
Consumer news

Six-month MoT extension ends on 1 August

Department for Transport ends MoT extension on 1 August; cars due an MoT before that date still get extra six months
29 Jun 2020

Most Popular

New Skoda Octavia vRS 2020 ride review
Skoda Octavia vRS Hatchback

New Skoda Octavia vRS 2020 ride review

We get our first taste of 242bhp Skoda Octavia vRS with Skoda tech development boss Christian Strube in the driver’s seat
10 Jul 2020
SEAT Leon vs Volkswagen Golf vs Ford Focus
Family hatchbacks

SEAT Leon vs Volkswagen Golf vs Ford Focus

The Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon are all long established hatchbacks - we find out which is best among the latest crop
11 Jul 2020
New Kia e-Niro 2020 review
Kia e-Niro SUV

New Kia e-Niro 2020 review

All-electric Kia e-Niro mid-sized SUV 
benefits from same updates as hybrid Niro versions
9 Jul 2020