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  6. The digital car

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The digital car

Digitalisation is pervading all channels and the car is naturally no exception. But which features can really help company fleets to get ahead in everyday business? We take a look at current and future innovation in the Volkswagen Group brands.

Golf GTI (180 kW / 245 PS)
(NEDC) fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 9.0-8.6 / extra-urban 5.6-5.3 / combined 6.9-6.5; CO₂ emissions in g/km (combined): 157-149; efficiency class: D-C

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that we have integrated digital services into our lives today. The keyword is “connected”: we want to be able to communicate anywhere and anytime with our environment – and in the car too. From infotainment systems that can be used intuitively through to reliable smartphone connection: both private individuals and company car drivers now rate connectivity as a must-have when buying a vehicle.
For example, according to a recent global McKinsey survey1), around 37 percent of customers are already prepared to switch car brands if this offers them better connectivity options – and this trend is increasing; this is probably due not least to the fact that we are getting closer to the point when tech-savvy millennials will dominate the market for new cars ...


New times, new services
The demand for digital services is immense, that much is certain. But what about the supply of services now and in the future? Does the market have solutions at hand that will really add value for frequent drivers? A look at the Volkswagen Group brands and their innovations impressively shows how comprehensively the topic of the “digital car” is being addressed – from Wolfsburg to Martorell, from Ingolstadt to Mladá Boleslav – be it in the form of solutions to enhance user comfort and convenience or safety features to mitigate risk.


Car2X from Volkswagen
Car2X communication, which is used as standard in the eighth generation of the Volkswagen Golf, allows traffic-related information to be exchanged with other vehicles and the transport infrastructure in the local area at a range of up to 800 metres. What’s special about this is that by using a European Car2X standard (WLANp/ITS G5), information can be transferred between cars of all brands and the infrastructures in all EU states. Company car users are thus warned both visually and acoustically, for example, if they are immediately approaching a current danger area. The reliability of this was determined in a test conducted by ADAC2) in 2020, when a Golf was one of others positioned as a stationary vehicle at the roadside. The driver of a second Golf was then warned in this test setup by Car2X some eleven seconds before the potential collision with the simulated breakdown vehicle. The Volkswagen technology was also thoroughly convincing in a number of other test scenarios, for example with approaching emergency vehicles or accidents around blind bends.  

The 3D mixed reality head-up display from Audi
A navigation arrow that points exactly into the side of a road where the destination is located? Thanks to the 3D mixed reality head-up display from Audi, this should become a reality in the foreseeable future. The technology, which was co-developed with Samsung, was exhibited live for the first time at CES 2020. As with a 3D television, the system displays two images of each picture for each eye: one pixel for the left eye and the adjacent one for the right eye. The generated images shown to the driver appear to be floating at a distance of around eight to ten metres from the vehicle; the apparent distance even increases to 70 metres by means of a clever display feature, enabling scenarios like the navigation application described above. This prevents the need for the eyes, which are focussed on the distant view, to refocus. Those who sit behind the wheel a lot will quickly appreciate this added comfort ...

SEAT Connect & the SEAT Connect app
Keyword comfort: the Spanish brand SEAT is focusing its digital innovations on providing the best possible user experience. The latest example is the SEAT Connect system and the connected smartphone app, which is available for the SEAT Leon launched in 2020. The mobile app allows company car users to lock and unlock their company vehicle remotely. Even horns and turn signals can be quickly activated at the touch of a finger to locate the car faster in a large car park. In the vehicle itself, SEAT Connect delivers the latest traffic reports, identifies nearby parking facilities or shows the opening times and fuel prices at filling stations in the surrounding area. In addition, the system allows a specific route to be planned at home and then sent to the vehicle to enable a speedy departure. Digital thumbs up!

The voice assistant Laura from ŠKODA
Whether starting navigation to a desired destination, finding a favourite piece of music or recording an SMS – anyone travelling by car day in, day out, wants to make the journey as pleasant as possible while concentrating at the same time. This is where the digital voice assistant Laura from the long-established Czech brand ŠKODA comes into play. The new, enhanced voice control supplements the top-of-the-range Amundsen infotainment system and is already available in various models. As a digital voice assistant, Laura currently supports around 15 languages, and even understands natural speech in some languages, such as German and English. For example: If the company car driver wants to increase the interior temperature, they simply say “Laura, I’m cold” to activate the command. And another exciting detail: in the future, the smart assistant will even be able to engage in digital small talk. Now if that doesn't sound promising ...

¹⁾ Source: McKinsey, Press Release, 11. Januar 2021
²⁾ Source: ADAC, „C2X im VW Golf 8: Erster ADAC Test“, 14.7.2020

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