volkswagen

Why Volkswagen is investing in a car-free future

volkswagen-is-planning-for-a-future-where-the-passat-is-no-longer-needed

IT’S potentially the biggest shake-up in motoring since Henry Ford set up shop. Yet its instigators would rather you didn’t buy the cars it’ll create.

MOIA might sound like a Radio 2 newsreader or one quarter of Irish folk band Clannad but it’s actually the Volkswagen Group’s latest company, putting it alongside Audi, Bentley, Porsche and Skoda. Except that MOIA isn’t a car company. It’s – and you’ll have to imagine me waggling my fingers as I say it – a “mobility services company”.

Brilliant, I initially thought. Europe’s biggest carmaker has decided to help The Champion’s more mature readers by using knowhow from the Golf and Passat to reinvent the mobility scooter. No longer will looking cool while wobbling about 8mph be the preserve of pensioners travelling in those tiny three-wheelers styled to look like Harley Davidsons – I can just imagine a Golf GTI-inspired mobility scooter with a golf ball gearknob, subtle go-faster stripes and clever traction control.

But I was wrong. Apparently MOIA is aimed not at the over-65s, not even at Ford and Vauxhall, but at Google, Apple and – more imminently – Uber. The whole concept of how we get around is changing, and Volkswagen is determined to be all German about it and lay its towel down before anyone else does.

Unless you’ve been in a cave for the past year you’ll already know that Google has managed to find enough time away from making search engine cartoons to create a car. Only a few months ago Ford acknowledged Apple is now one of its big rivals. And just about every cabbie from Liverpool to Louisiana is feeling a tad cross with Uber muscling in on their turf.

At the moment MOIA is all about car-sharing and ride-hailing apps but don’t be surprised to see it dipping into Volkswagen’s vast parts bin to rustle up a car or two of its own. Nor should you raise an eyebrow when Toyota, Renault and everyone else follow suit. When cars are banned from the big cities, it’ll be whoever wins the mobility-sharing race that rules the roost.

There will be a time in a distant future when moving about in Liverpool involves hailing a ride with some likeminded mates in a vehicle none of you own – but I don’t know if it’ll be VW, Apple, Google or Uber supplying it.

As long as it isn’t a mobility scooter styled like a Harley Davidson I won’t mind too much.

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What one German car mag’s said about the new Volkswagen Tiguan will shock you

tiguanIF ANYONE knows a thing or two about art it’s the French. They gave us impressionist paintings, Les Misérables and Daft Punk.

Extend that to cars and it’s immediately apparent they know a thing or two about great design too. In 1971 someone in a turtleneck sweater stuck the original Range Rover in The Louvre and declared it a piece of exemplary industrial design. The rest of the world immediately agreed. The idea of great car designs being art earned a new currency overnight – although it makes you wonder why they hadn’t already done it with the Citroën DS.

Great car designs make wonderful works of art – you only have to look at an E-type or a Citroën SM to realise why. Yet it’s hard to imagine anyone sticking the latest bit of award-winning automotive design in Paris’ hotspot in quizzical-looking arty types.

The new Volkswagen Tiguan has been hailed – admittedly by the Germans – as a brilliant bit of design. The only thing is I’m struggling to understand why.

According to Volkswagen it ‘radiates power and authority’, but I’m still not sure what excited German mag Auto Zeitung so much that it beat 14 other new cars to be honoured as 2016’s most exciting bit of automotive design. Surely the new Morgan EV3 or the Alfa Romeo Giulia or the Ford GT were a bit more interesting?

Apparently not. What excites Germans is the use of a how the Tigun uses VW’s Modular Transverse Matrix – I know you want to yawn, but bear with me – and manages to give it ‘an unmistaken SUV profile’. In other words, they’re impressed by how the bits you know and love from the Volkswagen Golf can be made to look almost exactly like a Nissan Qashqai or a Ford Kuga.

The Tiguan does look a bit smarter than the old one and I’m sure it’s fantastic at towing a caravan along the M58 while getting a silent fifty to the gallon, but is it really the year’s most interesting bit of motoring design? When there’s a new Honda NSX around the corner? When are there all sorts of interesting developments in fuel cell cars and autonomous driving on the horizon?

I’m not convinced. Maybe I’m not German enough…