Depending on your definition of a car, the Volkswagen Gen.Travel might not fall into this category due to its lack of a steering wheel. It’s not one of those wacky concepts with a steering wheel that folds up as soon as you activate the autonomous driving mode since it was designed solely for driverless journeys. Its body style is particular as VW says it blurs the line between a sedan and a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) aka a minivan in layman’s terms.
The Gen.Travel was not envisioned as a car that ordinary people can buy, but rather as a mobility service that you can hire. VW calls it an “Innovation Experience Vehicle (IEV)” to preview how long-distance mobility will change over the next decade. It’s considered an alternative to jumping on a plane for a short flight, which tells us it has a big enough battery for long trips (by car travel standards).
Maximum comfort is guaranteed by an active suspension called Electric Active Body Control (eABC) which calculates lateral and vertical movements such as cornering, acceleration and braking in advance to automatically optimize the “driving” style and trajectory. . With the help of artificial intelligence, VW sees a future in which a fully autonomous platoon – a group of vehicles driven together – will be possible to maximize range by driving as efficiently as possible.
As for the Gen.Travel itself, the design study features massive gullwing doors giving access to the comfortable cabin unobstructed by the B-pillars. The seats fold completely flat, so you can rest while the car does all the way for you. Alternatively, a commercial specification of the cabin shows room for four with face-to-face seating and a work table. A generous greenhouse with large side windows and a massive glass roof keeps the interior airy, although we’ll admit the body shape isn’t the most elegant.
It doesn’t appear to have any VW badging inside or out, but that’s likely because Gen.Travel represents the entire Volkswagen Group rather than just the main brand. The Level 5 standalone design study will make its public debut on September 24 at the Chantilly Arts & Elegance event near Paris. While a production version isn’t happening anytime soon, the German marque says some features could eventually carry over to a production vehicle.