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“Love for the brand is increasingly influenced by the design of the interior”

Interview with Peter Wouda

The electric drive creates more space inside the vehicle, autonomous driving opens up completely new options for deployment. What do these developments mean for the interior design of the future? Interview with Peter Wouda, Design Director at the Volkswagen Group Future Center Europe in Potsdam (Germany).

“The design of the interior of tomorrow will be an experience for all the senses.”

Peter Wouda Design Director at the Volkswagen Group Future Center Europe

When you get in a car today, what you notice is the steering wheel, the cockpit, and possibly a touchscreen. What will we see in a Volkswagen in 20 to 30 years’ time?

When you enter, you will be sitting in a comfortable little room that has been designed exactly the way you want it to be. In the not so distant future, its steering wheel will disappear when you don’t need it. Eventually there will be no steering wheel and no pedals at all. The vehicle interior will become an experience for all the senses, including smell. Virtual and augmented reality will create ever-changing new worlds inside the vehicle. And even as you approach your Volkswagen, it will already know where you want to go and what mood you’re in.

Will my fully connected car one day know me better than my partner?

Let me put it this way: if you allow your car to know where you would like to go, your name, what music you like, and which TV show you didn’t manage to watch to the end the night before – then a fully connected car can also become a companion, a partner. It reads your calendar and knows that today was a hard day. So it plays the right kind of music. It decides that today we’re not going to watch the news, but rather a documentary about Greenland. Communication with the car becomes comparable to a dialogue with a friend. This is why voice control is becoming increasingly important.

What will the Volkswagen interior of the future look like?

Volkswagen stands for mobility for all. As a result, we will see a great variety of interiors in Volkswagen vehicles. We must also differentiate between a Volkswagen that you purchase for yourself and one that you book for a single journey. With car sharing, the interior design will be tailored to the journey at hand. If you are travelling with kids, you will get a playroom on wheels. Do you want to get some work done? Or enjoy some time with your partner? In that case, the interior would be more luxurious and fitted with a sofa so that you could sit close to each other. We can look forward to a high degree of individuality and tailored solutions.

Playroom or lounge? In future, the interior could be tailored to the passengers.

Does car sharing make the interior more individual?

Yes, because you make bolder choices when you rent. However, car sharing means that the vehicles will age quicker, and therefore be replaced and recycled at a faster rate. This makes technologies like 3D printing very interesting. For example, if a major sporting event was taking place, you could adapt the interiors of the local vehicles in such a way that the fans of each team would be collected in a shuttle featuring their team’s design.

Is the interior design set to become the most important incentive to buy?

In the future, the design will revolve around the experience that we want to offer the customer. And the interior plays a decisive role here. The exterior then follows. It’s design from the inside out. But that doesn’t mean that the external appearance is any less important After all, it’s the exterior that you fall in love with. But it is the interior that determines whether you have a brief fling or a life-long relationship with a brand.

Can we already get a taste of the interior of the future?

In the ID.3¹ with space-saving electric drive, you can get an impression of just how much more spacious the interior is compared to models with a combustion engine. The ID.3 is the first vehicle to show what is possible – a great achievement in terms of both technology and design, in my opinion. And that’s only just the beginning.

In the future, what kind of interior would you like to travel in?

A very tasteful space that smells good and features pleasant lighting for the proper mood. When on my own, I would relax in an Eames Chair and enjoy a different beverage depending on the time of day. The vehicle knows what mood I am in and gives me the opportunity to finally listen to my favourite podcast to the end. When I’ve had enough of looking out the window, one voice control command is all it takes to change it to an augmented reality display. Instead of buildings, I drive past coral reefs; cars become dolphins, tuna and whales. That’s how I imagine the perfect drive home from work – gliding past coral reefs in a virtual submarine.

Fuel consumption

¹ ID.3: power consumption in kWh/100 km: 15.4–14.5 (combined), CO₂ emissions in g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+

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