Volkswagen Group has unveiled a futuristic concept vehicle with the goal of redefining the long-distance mobility of the future.
Set to make its public debut on September 24 at Chantilly Arts & Elegance near Paris, the Gen.Travel design study is an all-electric Innovation Experience Vehicle (IEV) capable of Level 5 autonomous driving that provides a "realistic outlook for the mobility of the coming decade."
Bridging the gap between a sedan and an MPV, Gen.Travel is billed as a premium product. If you look closely, you'll see that it lacks Volkswagen brand badging, featuring Volkswagen Group lettering front and rear instead. This may suggest the project is a joint effort from several group brands or may simply indicate that the automaker has not decided yet which brand would suit the Gen.Travel best. The group's ridesharing brand MOIA looks like an ideal candidate.
From a design standpoint, the concept's futuristic body is divided into two parts: the transparent glass cabin and the lower section, which houses all the technical features. Highlights include the upright windshield, massive gullwing doors for better entry and exit, and low edge of the window at waist level, which maximizes the view of the outside.
But the Gen.Travel concept's party piece is the modular interior, which can transport up to four people depending on the configuration. Volkswagen Group says the cabin makes the vehicle a flexible, sustainable Mobility-as-a-Service alternative to short-haul flights. While the vehicle drives autonomously—there's no sign of a steering wheel or pedals inside—passengers can relax, work or consume entertainment.
Gallery: Volkswagen Group Gen.Travel Design Study
That's because the interior concept can be customized for each journey and booked as a Mobility-as-a-Service offering. For business trips, the interior can adopt a conference setup with four comfortable seats on two rows and a large table in the middle. Thanks to dynamic lighting, the working environment is pleasant and avoids the danger of motion sickness.
There's also an overnight setup that allows the conversion of two seats into two beds that can be folded out to a full-flat position. In this case, the interior lightning system is said to influence melatonin production to help passengers fall asleep and wake up naturally. To ensure maximum safety for passengers even in a lying position, the vehicle is equipped with an innovative passenger restraint system.
For family trips, the cabin's front seats can be configured for entertainment using augmented reality (AR). In this configuration, the interior is light, with a natural design. According to the automaker, all HMI (human-machine interface) elements are produced using sustainable materials, combined with recycled or natural materials.
We don't get to learn anything about the concept's all-electric powertrain, but Volkswagen Group does note that Gen.Travel features the active suspension eABC (electric Active Body Control) for maximum comfort. The system optimizes the driving style and trajectory by calculating vertical and lateral movements such as acceleration, braking, or cornering ahead of time. The vehicle also uses artificial intelligence (AI) and platooning—fully autonomous driving in convoys—to further increase the range for long-distance journeys.
The Gen.Travel is a research vehicle whose purpose is to test the autonomous driving concept and new functionalities for customer response. Based on the results, some of its individual features may later find they way onto series production cars.