If you’re excited about self-driving cars, how about self-driving limousines? The Renault EZ-ULTIMO concept car has been unveiled at the Paris Car Show, and it’s incredible. Described by Renault as a mobile lounge, the vehicle is more than just a well-appointed self-driving vehicle with nice seats, it’s a complete luxury experience.
Passengers will get the usual limousine experience, including a bar, televisions and custom-made seating, but there’s more to it than that. The interior is designed as a ‘cocoon,’ where the inhabitants will be enclosed and have a completely unique experience. Augmented reality will enable passengers to travel to their destination from any angle, including on top of, or below, the car, or have an entirely customised trip. Passengers could go in between two European cities, or a couple of African villages. They could choose to travel from one planet to another or have the entire trip be on a balcony or in a ballroom. The interior of the vehicle is – at a very basic level – a projector which can be manipulated via mobile phone or onboard controls.
Of course, Renault is showing off. Paris is its local car show and it has a track record of demonstrating just how far it can push the envelope. But the EZ-ULTIMO isn’t just a hypothetical, in fact, as 5G technology comes online and self-driving cars are the inevitable outcome, a luxury offering will become a requirement. There will be a period where self-driving cars themselves will be a luxury item but following that, there will be a need for the rich and/or famous to get a vehicle that matches their real or perceived status. For the first time since the motorcar was invented, manufacturers have an opportunity to ‘own’ a segment of the market. Businesses like Renault – and everyone else in the market – can completely reinvent themselves as they see fit in an age that is no longer associated with regular cars. In fact, manufacturers will need to come up with an entirely new strategy in order to maintain their existing market presence, especially with new competitors entering the market.
Regardless, the EZ-Ultimo is a spectacular concept, and hopefully a reality in years to come.