Autocar confidential: Volvo’s views on saloons, Lexus holds on to hybrids and more

In this week’s stroll through motoring’s backstage area, we hear how Volkswagen plans to revolutionise online car buying, why Lexus thinks hybrids are still so important and more. 

Volkswagen’s quick click 

Volkswagen aims to introduce a new car-buying experience with the ID 3 EV, which will be launched in September, with sales boss Jürgen Stackmann saying the firm plans to enable “10 clicks to a finished car” when ordering one. But although it is moving towards online buying, he said dealerships will still be key: “In China, people do everything on their phone – except buy cars. You still need to touch and test a car.” 

Honda looks forward with the e

The Honda e features a classic bonnet design, despite lacking an internal combustion engine – and that’s because it’s the best shape for visibility. Designer Ken Sahara said of the EV: “At first, we tried to make it more futuristic and did several sketches with a shorter front. But from a functional perspective, a [steeply raked] A-pillar just makes bad visibility, so we used the two-box shape.” 

Volvo can handle saloon buyers

A stronger focus on an engaging driving experience is now a “prerequisite” for any new mid-sized saloon, reckons Volvo’s UK operations director, David Baddeley. “The segment has moved in a more dynamic direction,” he said. “If driving dynamics aren’t a big need for you, you’re much more likely to end up in an SUV. The market has differentiated and now you need dynamics.” 

Lexus hybrid-ges the gap

Lexus thinks that traditional hybrids are just as worthy as the new breed of plug-in hybrids from rivals. UK boss Ewan Shepherd said: “We believe hybrid is the tech for now. It is much more practical for someone coming out of a diesel or petrol. The infrastructure in cities is not there yet to make electric and plug-in hybrid fly.”