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Volkswagen SEDRIC Prototype: Riding in VW’s Self-Driving Car

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Motor Trend will never tell a First Drive examination on a Volkswagen SEDRIC. Nor will anyone else. That’s since a SEDRIC, that Volkswagen Group is now evaluating for launch someday after 2023, is a totally unconstrained vehicle. It has no steering wheel. No pedals. You usually call it adult on your smartphone and tell it where we are and where we wish to go. When it arrives, get in, lay back, relax, and suffer a ride.

The SEDRIC antecedent finished accessible for a float session—the name is a contraction of SElf DRIving Car—is one of 6 in existence and a usually one able of entirely unconstrained operation. It’s built on a mutated chronicle of Volkswagen’s E-Golf platform, that means a front-mounted e-motor, front-wheel drive, and a 35-kW-hr battery.

Should a SEDRIC plan get a immature light—sources contend a preference will expected be finished someday in 2020—the prolongation chronicle would be built on Volkswagen Group’s versatile new MEB electric automobile architecture. That means rear-wheel drive, a engine switches to a rear, and all a mechanism hardware for a unconstrained expostulate systems moves to a front of a car. The elementary figure and measure would sojourn unchanged.


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The SEDRIC is designed as an inner-city vehicle. Top speed is singular to about 20 mph, and not simply for reserve reasons: With speeds in traffic-snarled cities like New York, London, and Beijing final year averaging between 5 and 8 mph, VW engineers see tiny indicate in building a automobile with opening capability that will never be used. Because a handling speeds are so low, a SEDRIC can transport 120 to 180 miles between charges even on a tiny 35-kW-hr battery used in a prototype. Building a prolongation chronicle on MEB will concede a 60-kW-hr battery pack, significantly augmenting range.

Keeping altogether speeds low also helps newcomer comfort. The computers determining a SEDRIC are now automatic not to surpass 0.4 g parallel acceleration during cornering. (One of VW’s side projects as partial of a growth of unconstrained vehicles is investigate into suit sickness—engineers wish to know a causes, since some people are some-more receptive than others, and what can be finished to correct symptoms.)

We’re station on a immeasurable area of tarmac that is a steering exam pad during VW Group’s Ehra-Lessien proof belligerent when a SEDRIC glides to a hindrance in front of us. Panels in a doors heat green, afterwards a rearmost doorway gently pops external and slides to a back. The front doorway dances a identical ballet toward a front of a vehicle. The doors hang over a roof, building tallness is low, and there’s no sill to step over: You simply travel in, select a seat, and bend up. The SEDRIC’s interior is configurable, yet a four-seat vis-à-vis setup—passengers during any finish of a cabin, confronting any other—is expected to be a many common.

A touchscreen is trustworthy to a bound armrest between a dual behind seats. Below it is a row with 3 buttons: Stop, Go, and Call. Go and Call are illuminated. we press Go. The doors close, and after a impulse a SEDRIC silently oozes into motion.

Our march is brief and simple, defined by a fibre of cones along possibly side. A longish true takes us into a looping 180-degree turn, afterwards a array of squiggles as a SEDRIC heads us behind to a starting point. Ehra-Lessien’s steering pad is an pavement lake flush like a billiards table, so we can’t criticism on a ride, yet engineers confided that out in a genuine universe they’d cite higher-profile tires than a 195/55 R20 Continentals propitious to a SEDRIC antecedent since “the designers wanted large wheels.”

What we can tell we is a acceleration, steering, and stop actions were executed with a apt fibre of a master chauffeur. But we’ll have to wait until we knowledge a SEDRIC in real-world conditions, surrounded by trade and pedestrians, before we make a decisive call on a efficacy of VW’s self-driving technology.

It’s fundamentally a high box on wheels, so of march a SEDRIC’s interior is roomy. Although a wheelbase is shorter than a Golf’s, passengers loll in a cabin roomier than that of a Volkswagen T5 van. Visibility is excellent. The wrap-over doors underline windows from tip to bottom, a perspective interrupted usually by a lamp that carries switchgear and provides side impact protection. The atmosphere conditioning and vents are all in a roof, and a pure OLED shade during a front of a cabin enables calm to be displayed but interference a perspective ahead.

The SEDRIC is spearheading Volkswagen Group’s incursion into a dauntless new universe of mobility services. A news published final year by investment landowner Goldman Sachs suggested a tellurian ride-hailing market—taxis, Uber, Lyft, etc.—could be value $285 billion by 2030. Removing a motorist from a business indication by unconstrained pushing record would boost a intensity distinction pool from $65 billion to $220 billion, Goldman Sachs says. Bottom line: An automaker handling a possess unconstrained ride-hailing swift could make $14,000 per automobile over 3 years, 9 times a normal distinction it creates offered a singular vehicle.

A display to a VW house now puts a chances of a SEDRIC overcoming technical and legislative hurdles amply to capacitate it to be greenlit for prolongation during “medium.” It’s a unsure project. But a rewards could be significant.

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