Volkswagen’s I.D. range grows up with Vizzion
The latest model in Volkswagen’s I.D. family of concept cars, which made its world debut at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, is also the largest model in the range and, arguably, the most advanced. At more than 5 m (16.5 ft) long, and with a 3.1-m (10.2-ft) wheelbase, Vizzion is the flagship of the I.D. range that embraces autonomous and connected transportation. Thanks to two electric motors for all-wheel drive with a combined output of 225 kW and a 111-kW·h battery, it also offers a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of just over 6 s and a range of up to 665 km (415 mi).
But the performance of the car is not the real story here; it’s much more about the technology. Vizzion has Level 5 autonomy in its sights and is set to hit the streets after other Volkswagen I.D. family members such as the Crozz and Buzz. The trio, as well as 12 other battery powered models, are tasked with helping the Volkswagen brand achieve sales of one million electric vehicles a year by 2025, marking it out as the leader in e-mobility.
From the very top, the message was clear in Geneva: “With the I.D. Vizzion, we are underlining Volkswagen’s claim: we want to be among the leaders in shaping the individual mobility of the future,” said CEO of the Volkswagen brand, Dr. Herbert Diess. “We will be offering this model by the latest in 2022 as the top sedan in the I.D. family with the innovative I.D. cockpit and a steering wheel. The model will be prepared for fully autonomous driving. Step-by-step, it will relieve the driver of tasks—if the driver so wishes.”
Based on the assumption that Level 4 and 5 autonomous driving will have been established by 2025, Volkswagen’s plan for the Vizzion is to debut it with a steering wheel and “dashboard,” but later generations will see these elements disappear. The subsequent removal of these items—as well as pedals and the “driver’s” seat—means more space onboard, making the Vizzion more like a lounge environment than a vehicle.
A combination of imaging technologies are used to detect the environment, including laser scanners, ultrasonic sensors, radar sensors and front, rear, and side cameras. Vizzion relies on a cloud connection for initial traffic data, which is then compared with the car’s own data of the live environment. Volkswagen says that future networking of vehicles with one another will also enable the car to utilize the swarm intelligence of the immediate surroundings and the larger environment—what it calls Car-2-Car and Car-2-X.
Helped by the integration of artificial intelligence, VW says that occupants will be well protected from the point of view of safety and health. Vizzion uses facial recognition when passengers approach the vehicle and can then subsequently open the door for them, adjust their seat and climate controls, and put on their preferred music choice. From an occupant wellbeing standpoint, the car is also able to optimize the climate control settings or ambient lighting automatically.
With the Vizzion, Volkswagen believes it has done more than most when it comes to augmented reality and giving control to the car (not the occupants). This level of mixed reality is used in other areas of industry, but the Germans are aware that it will come to dominate over the next decade. Having said that, the Vizzion does boast two physical pushbutton controls on the center console—one in the front and one in the rear—to enable passengers to still be able to manually control climate, entertainment, and other elements.