Minivans and autonomous shuttles take center stage as automakers try to understand the future of driving

 

This week, a subsidiary of Volkswagen called Moia unveiled a new concept vehicle in Berlin: a six-seater all-electric van. Blandly brown in color and retaining none of the flash typical of other concept vehicles, the Moia EV probably flew under the radar for most people. But what’s interesting about it is that the vehicle is designed for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, and more specially for carpooling. And Moia isn’t the only company that sees the advantage of a large wheelbase vehicle as the perfect hedge against an uncertain future.

Over the last year, the auto industry has been leaning into minivans, vans, and shuttles as the types of vehicles best suited for these shared, pooled rides, either with a human driver or an autonomous one. Thanks to a convergence of self-driving technology, ride-sharing and car-sharing apps, and battery-electric vehicles, OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are rushing to respond to shifting consumer habits. And the fact remains, the classic four-door passenger sedan just doesn’t cut it anymore.

 

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