Even though the main focus at Volkswagen is changing the company and its cars by embracing electrification, the company’s CEO actually sees self-driving tech as the field that will change cars most. Herbert Diess argues that cars will become much more different due the addition of autonomous driving features than they would have become just by changing their powertrain to electric.
Volkswagen is currently rearranging its business to be able to produce more electric and electrified cars, with the end goal of completely shifting to only offering EVs around the middle of the next decade. It’s already investing in adding multiple battery plants around the world in order to be able to supply battery packs for all its upcoming EVs - it plans to sell 1 million vehicles this year alone and it wants to become the global EV leader by 2025.
But Herbert Diess does have a point when he says self-driving could change the car as we know it more than electrification has. He was recently quoted by Automotive News as saying:
This change will transform the industry more than EVs or the electrification does. The car becomes so different when it’s driving autonomously.
You’ve seen those concepts that preview autonomous cars - some have swivelling, reclining seats and very unconventional interiors, while others don’t even have windows to look out. These are just two examples of major ways in which the cars of the future will change the more autonomous they become.
It may also be that self-driving has not evolved as quickly as we thought when considering how much money is being spent to develop it. Now there are many companies, not just automakers, working to perfect automated driving, and according to the source article, consulting firm AlixPartners says self-driving tech cost will drop by at least 60 percent by the end of the decade.
This would naturally allow for more companies to use the tech in more affordable applications. Volkswagen is reportedly spending some $3-billion (£2.15 billion) annually on software, although not all the money is reserved for self-driving. Diess also said that even though Volkswagen isn’t a software leader,
We are in quite a good position to remain a very strong player in this future automotive world, in 'new auto,' as we call it.