In Brief
Volkswagen is serious about making clean and efficient cars, and they're set to launch an autonomous electric crossover vehicle in Shanghai next week. The new concept is part of an I.D. lineup of zero-emission vehicles VW plans to roll out by 2020.

Zero-Emission Lineup

Veteran automaker Volkswagen is set to roll out a new line of zero emission I.D. vehicles by 2020. One of which is a full-electric crossover with autonomous driving features. On April 12, the German car manufacturer released teasers of this concept car, which is set to rival Tesla’s Model X.

The electric crossover concept is actually the third in VW’s new I.D. lineup, following the hatchback and van concepts. “Volkswagen has set the clearly defined goal of advancing electric-drive vehicles from the status of a startup niche to large-scale production models by the middle of the next decade in a worldwide product offensive,” the company said in a statement.

The concept vehicle — a mix between a four-door coupe and a SUV— is set to debut at the Shanghai auto show next week. By pressing the VW badge in the middle of the steering wheel, the crossover shifts into autonomous driving mode, with the steering wheel automatically folding into the cockpit. The car is then maneuvered by signals coming from a combination of laser and ultrasonic scanners, radar sensors, and cameras working in tandem.

Image credit: Volkswagen
Image credit: Volkswagen

The Autonomous Future

VW’s goal is to sell 1 million EVs every year by 2025. While that number might seem huge, it’s a testament to how VW sees autonomous EVs as the future of personal transport — and they’re not the only one.

Apart from Tesla — who’s arguably the world’s leading EV and self-driving car producer — several other companies have been working on their own autonomous concepts. There’s Volvo working with Uber and Google’s self-driving vehicle Waymo. Even luxury car designers like Porsche have self-driving concepts. Another notable entry is Faraday Future’s FF 91, which is moving closer to commercial release.

The appeal of self-driving cars isn’t just in their futuristic factor: they’re also expected to save lives. By taking human error out of the equation behind the wheel, that could work out to be roughly 40,000 in the U.S. alone. Even better, many of the autonomous car concepts are also EVs — so it’s not just human lives they’re saving, but the environment, too.