Volkswagen Exec Calls Demise Of SUVs Imminent
They’re apparently soon-to-be dinosaurs in his eyesby Kirby Garlitos, on
Consumer taste and preference is always a cyclical thing. Today’s popular items will be on sales bins tomorrow. That kind of change has always happened and will continue to happen since consumers are always after the next big thing. The same principle applies in the auto industry, which is exactly what Volkswagen’s executive director of design Klaus Bischoff alluded to when the told Auto Express that SUVs will eventually become “dinosaurs” once autonomous driving vehicles hit the market.
“Maybe SUVs will start to look old at some point and people will point at them and say, ‘He’s driving a dinosaur,’" Bischoff said. “We don’t see that now, but I strongly believe that we’re going to see much different vehicles when we get to Level 5 autonomy, and then it becomes much more open.”
The comparison to the extinct reptiles sounds a little harsh, but there are some nuggets of truth to what Bischoff is talking about. More than most industries, the automotive business is susceptible to the winds of change, especially when revolutionary technologies like electrification and autonomous driving start to take center stage. There once was a time when vans and minivans were considered the go-to people movers. Then crossovers and SUVs arrived and those same vans slowly started losing popularity to the point that only a handful of automakers still make them these days.
Today, crossovers and SUVs are as popular as they’ve ever been, but according Bischoff, the next automotive “game changer” will be Level 5 autonomy, or the ability for cars to completely drive by themselves without any sort of human assistance. The shift itself isn’t necessarily tied into the convenience of being able to do something else as the car drives by itself, but rather the opportunity that designers will be presented with to completely alter a car’s interior to suit a number of different lifestyles, including the “lounge layout” that Volkswagen presented with the ID Concept at the 2016 Paris Motor Show.
That kind of design is a possibility if cars with Level 5 autonomy become the norm in the industry. In the event that happens, would you still drive an SUV?
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The man has a point
If you thought that the SUV’s ability to let its drivers and occupants sit in higher seating positions is a draw today, imagine what kind of design possibilities an autonomous driving car will have once the auto industry reaches a point where Level 5 autonomy becomes a norm, rather than a glorified exception.
It’s an astute observation that goes to show how fast the industry evolves on its own axis. That’s precisely the reason why a lot of companies are eager to jump into the crossover and SUV markets these days. They know the market is hot right now and they want to take advantage of it as much as they can for as long as it can before it starts to cool down.
To be fair, there is a possibility of a future wherein traditional crossovers and SUVs, as well as electric cars and self-driving cars, will be able to have a shared space in vast ecosystem of the business. That’s in play, but rest assured, when EVs and autonomous driving cars start populating the streets, there will be a significant shift in attention and demand for these cars provided that regulations are in place that allow it to happen.
It’s just the nature of evolution within the industry and Bischoff’s explanation of it, while amusing, is right on the money.
Read our full review on the 2016 Volkswagen I.D. Concept here.
Source: Auto Express