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Geneva LIVE: VW I.D. VIZZION concept

by Byron Hurd

VW\'s EV concept aims for a level 5 future.

Volkswagen's latest concept lineup expanded to include a level-five autonomous prototype with the unveiling of the I.D. VIZZION in Geneva Monday. The heavily teased prototype combines a battery-electric powertrain with biometric, voice and gesture control for the ultimate hands-off vision (appropriately enough) for future mobility.

Let's start with the fundamentals. The ID VIZZION is a pure battery-electric vehicle built on a 111kWh battery pack and sporting two independent transmissions each paired to its own electric motor and pair of drive wheels.

The combined output of the two motors is 302 horsepower, but they're not symmetrical. The rear motor is the more powerful despite being compact, producing two-thirds of the total system power. The front coaxial motor produces the other 101.

Volkswagen did not offer any performance figures, but did provide some insight into the I.D. VIZZION's more practical capability. The claimed range on the European cycle is more than 410 miles. Back-of-the-napkin math would reduce that to somewhere south of 350 miles on the U.S. test cycle, but until and unless VW actually decides to certify this powertrain, we may never know for certain.

Volkswagen's I.D. VIZZION is one of the first cars to incorporate artificial intelligence into its operation. The concept's software is self-learning, VW says, allowing it to adapt to unexpected road conditions (such as weather, construction, etc.) by applying lessons "learned" in previous situations to new obstacles.

This advanced intelligence will be critical to the I.D. VIZZION's operation, as it was engineered for level five (driverless/control-less) autonomy. It has no steering wheel or other input controls.

Instead, the passengers (no sense referring to drivers here) are treated to what VW calls a "lounge-like" atmosphere replete with footrests and tintable panoramic glass (to allow for as much or as little outside light as desired).

And while the concept has no dashboard, it does have a center console, on which some physical control interfaces are still located. One is a volume knob (yeah, seriously) and the other is a kill switch, if you will. Even intelligent cars need "off" buttons.

A car that isn't really a car doesn't need to look like one in the conventional sense. That follows, right? That said, the I.D. VIZZION does something a bit unexpected in that regard. Rather than looking like an amorphous blob with no coherent link to current automotive design trends, it actually looks like a concept car from ten years ago.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it makes the concept look more contemporary--even conventional. The wheels look like a stylized version of what you see on some of VW's existing sedans, and all the lines and curves are exactly where you'd expect them to be. It doesn't look like a production car, mind you, but it's not that far removed, either.

The things that make it unique are subtle. From the belt line up, for instance, it's essentially all glass. It's shaped like a conventional greenhouse, but if you look closely you'll see that there's essentially no roof to speak of. That's been done before, of course, but this execution is a bit more fanciful.

Volkswagen's Herbert Diess says the I.D. VIZZION concept will be road-ready by 2022. Stay tuned.

Live photography by Ronan Glon.