The next innovation in sliding doors is coming our way.
After VW's Dieselgate saga, the German car-making conglomerate has doubled down on electrification in a big way. Not only are EVs forming a major part of its lineup across all brands under the umbrella, but the company launched the Electrify America charging network too. The VW ID range of electric cars is taking off strongly, with the ID.4 being the American flagship, while in Europe, the ID.3 hatch, ID.4 GTX performance crossover, and ID.5 coupe crossover fly the flag high. But while all eyes are currently on the next project, the ID.BUZZ electric minivan, VW is already a few steps ahead of this. It seems a minivan of a different kind could be heading to production, as patent documents uncovered by CarBuzz have shown the 2017 Sedric (SElf-DRIving Car) concept could be entering production.
When the Sedric debuted, it previewed a Level 5 autonomous vehicle. It has a lot in common with the ID.BUZZ concept, like a cabin with four occupants facing one another and a lounge-like ambiance, but while the ID.BUZZ only has a single sliding door on either side, the Sedric featured dual sliding doors.
A patent document filed by VW with the World Intellectual Property Office and published late in December 2021 showcases the locking mechanism for these doors, hinting that VW is developing a production version of the Sedric. This is the first real confirmation we've had other than a quote from VW several years ago saying that the company was looking into it.
The document, which describes a "locking system device with integrated impact protection for vehicles, [or a] vehicle door device for a vehicle," showcases the same double sliding doors we saw on the Sedric. But it goes into greater detail showcasing the locking mechanism and how it would be safe for production use. In a door system like this, one of the potential issues is how it responds in a crash, as a door opening in a collision is bad news. Seeing as double sliding doors have fewer points at which they affix to a solid body, this could be an issue. VW has developed a way around this with a rotary-activated lock that locks in multiple directions. The first is a direct lock into the top and bottom of the vehicle frame, while the second locks from side-to-side into the adjacent bodywork and the other door. This not only adds structural stability but also extra safety.
So, why do we think this points towards a production Sedric more than the ID.Buzz? Well, simply put, the ID.Buzz has conventional front doors and sliding rear doors. This dual sliding door design wouldn't work as effectively on the ID.Buzz. The Sedric, meanwhile, has undergone various changes with each occasion on which we've seen it, pointing towards VW's continued investment in developing a self-driving platform. VW has already been toying with a self-driving version of the ID.Buzz which could act as an autonomous taxi within the confines of the city, so perhaps these doors could be used in that application instead, where passengers would be less at risk of opening a door into traffic.