"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 car sales drop 29.4% in 2020 but EV sales up by 186%
Ford Fiesta
News

New car sales drop 29.4% in 2020 but EV sales up by 186%

SMMT figures set to show that new car sales dropped to their lowest level since 1992, with just 1.63 million registrations
6 Jan 2021
Can I buy a car during the Covid-19 lockdown?
Coronavirus

Can I buy a car during the Covid-19 lockdown?

National lockdowns in all four parts of UK keep car dealers closed, but here’s how you can still buy a new or used car
5 Jan 2021

Most Popular

'MG's sales must rank as the success story of the year, possibly the decade'
MG 2020
Opinion

'MG's sales must rank as the success story of the year, possibly the decade'

Mike Rutherford says plenty of big car brands could learn from MG's focus on cheap cars
17 Jan 2021
Brawny new Ford Ranger MS-RT launched
Ford Ranger MS-RT - front
Ford Ranger

Brawny new Ford Ranger MS-RT launched

Ford’s long-standing aftermarket partner, MS-RT, has launched a tweaked version of the Ranger with an aggressive body kit
18 Jan 2021
New 2022 Smart electric SUV to rival Peugeot e-2008
Smart SUV - front (watermarked)
Smart

New 2022 Smart electric SUV to rival Peugeot e-2008

The new Smart SUV will use an electric platform developed by Geely and our exclusive images preview how it could look
18 Jan 2021