VW Unveils I.D. Vizzion, SEDRIC School Bus in Geneva

This week at the Geneva Auto Show, Volkswagen officially debuted a school bus version of its awkwardly named SEDRIC (SElf DRIving Car), and the I.D. Vizzion concept car, which the company calls a “saloon” that riders can control through augmented reality, gestures and voice commands.

The German automaker will bring the Vizzion to market in 2022, although it will initially launch with conventional controls.

In addition to augmented reality features, which entail the use of virtual control elements and displays projected inside the car, the Vizzion is essentially a rolling smart device that acts like a chauffeur.

To bring that vision to reality, Volkswagen has altered the layout of the vehicle’s interior to reflect that new roll of all occupants as passengers — think of the Vizzion as a living room on wheels.

This gives the company a potential advantage in the large sedan market, as the lounge-like interior offers more space than any other vehicle in its category, with a panoramic moonroof spread overhead.

While some analysts are skeptical as to when Level 5 automation — vehicles fully capable of operating and reacting to unforeseen road conditions without human control — will become a reality, Volkswagen claims driving at that level is already conceivable starting in 2025.

The all-electric vehicle architecture is also scalable, which means Volkswagen can adapt the drivetrain to vehicles of various sizes, including SUVs; busses; and smaller, sportier cars.

“We plan to build around one million all-electric vehicles per year already by 2025,” Dr. Herbert Diess, chairman of the Volkswagen Brand board of management, noted in a March 6 statement, noting the compact I.D. and the I.D. Crozz SUV would make their debut in 2020.

The I.D. Buzz large capacity passenger vehicle — essentially the company’s iconic Microbus reconstituted for the 21st century — will follow those models in 2022.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen took the wraps off the latest family member of the SEDRIC concept car line in the form of a futuristic school bus, following the original SEDRIC, SEDRIC 42 and SEDRIC Nightlife models.

Comparisons to school busses of the past end with the conventional yellow paint job — Volkswagen’s Self-Driving System (SDS) concept has the option of using the OneButton control element to call up the self-driving electric vehicle with one button and collect students door-to-door.

Designed in a monolithic form with thick body pillars, roomy interior and yellow and black color scheme — with stylized graffiti accents no less — the youthful look of the vehicle is aimed at providing an inviting and fun experience, which continues into the interior.

Inside, aluminum boxes decorated with stickers form the basis for two of the four seats, while the front windscreen is designed as a large-format OLED screen and provides onboard entertainment, and is presumably chewing gum resistant.

The concept is part of the company’s goal of becoming a global leader in autonomous driving under the Together 2025 plan, a goal long in the making. It started in 2005 as a partnership between the Volkswagen Electronics Research Lab and Stanford University resulted in victory at the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, widely considered the dawn of the automated vehicle era.

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter @dropdeaded209_LR.

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