Last year Porsche showed us the somewhat fascinating Renndienst Study as one of many ‘unseen’ concept cars that it discarded over the years, and now the German carmaker is showing us inside the futuristic looking van.
The concept car was conceived as a family-friendly six-seat MPV that was partially inspired by the VW T1 Renndienst (racing service) van that served Porsche’s factory racing team back in the day.
The Renndienst concept was created as a vision of a fully autonomous, battery-powered vehicle that can still be driven and enjoyed when the mood strikes. For those occasions it was designed to have the feel of a true cockpit. However, with just one swivel, the driver’s seat can be rotated 180 degrees to face the other occupants in a lounge-like layout.
“We thought about how we could still give a distinctly Porsche flair to a passenger compartment that is so far removed from the classic sports-car interior. And how autonomous driving could be designed,” said chief designer Michael Mauer. “We don’t assume that our customers want to give up using a steering wheel”.
Another interesting aspect of the design is the asymmetrical window layout, in which one side is closed off to create a ‘protective’ capsule-like space where passengers can retreat to. The other side has a large window bank for an unobstructed view outside. The front-row passengers sit in ergonomically shaped bucket seats positioned on either side of the driver’s seat, but further back, and they have a clear view of the road ahead and of their individual dashboard screens. The back section takes the form of a bench seat with curved sides that allows for lounge-like seating angles designed to enable talking, relaxing and working. The designers also sought to create the best possible balance between the analogue and digital worlds, and although the cabin is packed with screens, the driver also has access to traditional haptic buttons as this is ultimately best for driver concentration.
Director of user experience design, Ivo van Hulten, is tasked with understanding the ‘smartphone generation’ clientele of the future, and he is constantly exploring the different possibilities for the interior of the future.
“In the past, the hunger for something new was satisfied with the purchase of the product. Today, many young people are no longer just fascinated by the aesthetics of a product, but by the opportunities it offers them,” van Halten said. “The questions are: Is the interior modular enough to adapt to changing circumstances even a few years after purchase? Will I be able to run updates remotely and around the clock? We are building on an impressive brand history with the UX department – and are boldly looking far into the future.”
That’s not to say that we’re going to see a self-driving MPV in Porsche showrooms any time soon, but you can be sure that some of the innovative cabin solutions that are being explored behind the scenes, with concepts such as the Renndienst, will find their way into future products.