This is a direct contrast to the current picture of the industry.
The streamlining era brought an end to tall automobiles like the Ford Model T, but as soon as consumers realized that taller vehicles made ingress and egress easier and could haul more people and cargo without compromise, the SUV and crossover era blew up. However, according to what VW’s design boss Klaus Bischoff told Auto Express, the current SUV rush that’s being experienced may cave to the changes of the market and the automobile itself.
Bischoff’s prediction isn’t based off of the direction he thinks popular consumer demand will take. Instead, it has more to do with evolving automotive technology. According to Bischoff, autonomous technology will be the catalyst to render the SUV obsolete. With Level Five autonomy, driver’s have no need to be present inside a vehicle for it to get from A to B. As a result, designers have much more freedom to play around with the car’s design, even eliminating such currently crucial features like windshields and front facing seats. The shift will render the SUV, in Bischoff’s own words, as a dinosaur. “Maybe SUVs will start to look old at some point and people will point at them and say, ‘He’s driving a dinosaur,’" he said.
We don’t see that now, but I strongly believe that we’re going to see much different vehicles when we get to Level Five autonomy, and then it becomes much more open,” elaborated Bischoff. What he means by this is that if more freedom in automobile design is found via autonomy, then the interior cabin can be completely redesigned, allowing for sedans to have enough interior space by reshuffling seating positions and eliminating the steering wheel. One glaring hole we see in Bischoff’s prediction is that autonomous vehicles are being designed for the road, but when it comes to the beaten trail, the one that requires SUV capability, there is more of a need for a conscious driver.