Oh, how Volkswagen has teased us through the years.
In 2001, VW's Microbus concept, an updated version of the flower-power bus, stole the Detroit Auto Show. It touted a ceiling-mounted LCD screen, a backup camera, and comfy swivel seats that wouldn't become common until later in the decade. The Microbus was slated for production, but VW got cold feet in 2005.
Then in 2011, the VW Bulli Microbus concept emerged with an EV powertrain, seating for 6, and a cutesy level of 60s nostalgia. Volkswagen teased future production of the concept at the Geneva Auto Show, but the automaker was mum on future plans for an electric renewal of the bus.
In early 2016, Volkswagen introduced the BUDD-e electric bus concept at the Consumer Electronics Show. This concept builds off the Bulli, Microbus, and VW type 2 before it. While VW has kept the project under wraps for the most part, we've gathered enough info from around the web to piece together the picture of the BUDD-e.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the BUDD-e concept is its all-new electric platform. Fresh off the embarrassment of their US diesel scandal, VW will use their Modular Electric Toolkit as the base of the BUDD-e. New Atlas has reported that the all-new platform has "the potential to put electric vehicles on equal footing with their ICE-driven counterparts, increasing driving ranges, delivering sharp, quick performance, and packaging electric hardware efficiently enough to leave room for spacious, no-compromise interiors."
Just how will VW put this electric bus on par with other cars? With a top speed of 93 mph, the flat 101-kWh battery will cover 373 miles when fully charged. And when you're in a pinch, it only takes 15 minutes to get to 80%.
VW's newest addition will be their Human-Machine Interface, which is a 12.3 inch curved display that takes the place of the traditional instrument panel. Here's what the HMI will bring to the BUDD-e:
- 3D Navigation. While you're driving, the screen will display vehicle and trip info in real time.
- Touch Control. No more twisty knobs or sliding tabs. Control everything from the temperature to the radio with touch control on the steering wheel, slider, and touchscreen. Simply apply pressure and swipe.
- Voice Control. The coolest part of HMI? It responds to voice commands such as "turn off the headlights" 'or "turn up the music."
What will the BUDD-e look like? According to Volkswagen, it will look like the classic VW Type 2 bus but newer. The new package will be "inspired by the iconic charm of classic Volkswagen vans." Reports say the BUDD-e is topped with a contrasting roof floating on pillars, while a passenger-side sliding door serves as a nod to the original VW bus.
At 181 inches long, 76.3 inches wide, and 72.2 inches high, it's actually over a foot longer than the original Type 2. However, due to modern safety standards, the BUDD-e accommodates just 2 rows of seats. Despite the classic throwbacks, the clean exterior and LED accents give the BUDD-e a sleek and futuristic look.
Will we ever see the BUDD-e hit the production line? The future now is hazy. All Volkswagen has promised is that it will use BUDD-e's new technical elements into future vehicles by 2020. But if you ask us, now is the perfect time to resurrect the microbus for the electronic world.
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