VW’s smart delivery system? I’d give it the boot

TWO umbrellas, a book about MGs that I still haven’t got around to reading and – for work purposes, because I never know when I might need them – a couple of copies of Classic Car Weekly. That’s about as exciting as the contents of my car’s boot get.

But even they might have to be evicted if a bold new idea to revolutionise online deliveries takes off. For months they’ve been happy to slide around, bouncing off shopping bags and probably knocking a mile or two off what my Toyota does to the gallon, but they’ll have to go, and all because I can’t trust you. Not you specifically, of course – I’m sure you’re fine. I mean other members of the wider population, especially ones who I haven’t met. But VW expects you to trust them with whatever’s in your boot.

Europe’s biggest carmaker has been using Berliners as guinea pigs for its new We Deliver scheme – and says they loved it so much that it’s now looking to roll it out elsewhere, including here in the UK. The idea’s a simple one – if you’re going to be at work all day and you’re expecting a delivery, you can use your car’s boot as the delivery address. The delivery man can then find your car, use an app to open the boot, stick the parcel inside, and then hop back in his van. Brilliant!

Sorry to go all Dragons’ Den on you, but it’s fraught with problems. What if you’ve got something more valuable than two umbrellas and a book about MGs in the boot, and how do you prove it if an unscrupulous delivery man – perhaps one who’s getting rained on and wants to learn all there is to know about the MG Midget – helps himself to your stuff? There are genuinely people out there who get kicks out of nicking other people’s parcels, too. Will they, if everyone’s valuables are locked away in car boots, begin to attack parked cars? There’s also the small problem of cars having this nasty habit of moving from place to place – and why would I leave my car at home when I need it to get to work?

What’s more, I reckon it’s a bit of a halfway house anyway; with Britain going full tilt towards autonomous cars, I don’t think it’ll be too long before I can simply dispatch my self-driving Golf or Astra off to the depot on its own, where it can go collect my Amazon deliveries for me.

It’s a genuine problem, created by our insatiable appetite for cheap things that we can order online with next day delivery, but I don’t think turning all our cars into four-wheeled postboxes is the answer.

Personally, I much prefer the idea of having things I want delivered not via an internet-dispatched delivery man, but being made readily available in a set of buildings, situated in a nearby town or city centre, that are open throughout the week.

Call me old-fashioned, but that might catch on…

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