VW to unveil self-driving car as part of post-dieselgate shift

GENEVA, March 6 (Reuters) - Volkswagen will show

off a fully self-driving car at the Geneva auto show, as part of

the German carmaker's drive to be at the forefront of new

technologies in the wake of its diesel emissions scandal.

Europe's biggest carmaker has said it will invest billions

of euros in electric cars, ride-hailing and automated driving,

and launch over 30 electric models by 2025 as it battles to

recover from its emissions test cheating.

The self-driving concept car called Sedric - a so-called

Level 5 vehicle capable of fully automated operation - is a

precursor for more such models from the Volkswagen (VW) group in

years to come, Chief Executive Matthias Mueller said on Monday

on the eve of car executives' annual gathering in Geneva.

VW is hiring top specialists and plans to spend several

billions of euros on automated driving alone, Mueller said,

without being more specific.

Sedric can carry 4 passengers and could be used for

ride-sharing fleets as well as for individual consumers, VW

said.

Internet giant Google was a forerunner in

self-driving technology with its 2015 prototype vehicle, but has

since been challenged by companies ranging from Uber

to Apple, as well as traditional carmakers.

Manufacturers and their suppliers are working on different

technology suites - including cameras, radar and laser imaging

technology lidar - to enable vehicles to drive themselves, but

it will take years for these vehicles to come to market.

Mercedes-Benz unveiled its fully autonomous F 015

luxury concept two years ago. But Toyota has said it

does not expect to see Level 5 cars in widespread use for

another 10-15 years, while Ford does not plan to offer

such vehicles for consumers until 2025 or later.

(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Mark Potter)