Could Volkswagen be poised to bring out an all-new version of its iconic camper van—this time with an electric motor?
It looks highly likely after the German car maker unveiled a concept vehicle as part of its electric vehicle family going forward.
Volkswagen management board member Herbert Diess recently declared that VW’s future will be powered by electricity. To back up that brave assertion and to rid your thoughts of past TDI nastiness, the world’s second-largest carmaker unveiled the ID Buzz—essentially the VW Microbus reconstituted for the 21st century—at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Volkswagen has stressed the ID Buzz is purely a concept at this stage but given the universal adoration for its original camper it seems highly likely a successor would be enthusiastically welcomed.
Although VW didn’t say for certain that it would be produced for sale, in introducing the ID Buzz, the automaker talked about a “big electric offensive” to begin in 2020. By 2025 the German automaker hopes to be selling 1 million electric vehicles per year.
“We are making electric mobility the new trademark of Volkswagen,” the automaker said in a statement.
The ID Buzz follows on the VW ID electric concept car unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in late September 2016.
Volkswagen said its new Buzz forges links between the origins of the Volkswagen brand and its electrifying future.
Industry analysts believe Volkswagen will press ahead with the project, meaning the 21st century version of the Camper van could be available by 2022.
The Buzz, like the ID, is based on Volkswagen’s Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB), in a bid to show the versatility of the platform and how it could be used as a base for vehicles of different sizes.
With one electric motor in front and one in back, the ID Buzz has all-wheel drive. It is also capable of fully autonomous driving, according to VW. The driver’s seat can even be turned around 180 degrees to face backward and the steering wheel can also retract into the dashboard.
While the original VW Microbus was famously underpowered and slow, this one will be able to jump from zero to 60 miles an hour in just five seconds, VW says. Top speed will be limited to 99 miles an hour.
The name Buzz plays off the word “Bus,” VW said, while ID stands for—take your pick—”Idea,” “Identity,” or “Intelligent Design,” among other things.
VW’s big push on electric vehicles follows the automaker’s recent diesel emissions scandal. Volkswagen was found to have installed software that reduced harmful emissions from many of the automaker’s diesel-powered vehicles only during testing. As part of a plan to make up for that, VW has agreed to promote electric cars.
This is not VW’s first electric bus concept. Volkswagen showed off the BUDD-e electric concept bus one year ago at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. At that time VW said the electric VW bus could be in production by the end of the decade
Although Volkswagen says it has no plans to ditch the internal combustion engine its electric vehicle ambitions are huge.
The automaker has already started to fulfill its electric dreams with electric versions of the Golf and Up and it produces hybrid versions of the Golf and Passat.
As well as being powered by electric motors if the Buzz does go into production it would also feature some of the latest connected and autonomous vehicle technology.
A light press on the its Volkswagen logo sees the electrically retractable steering wheel disappear into the cockpit.
The facility would enable the driver to relax while laser scanners, ultrasonic and radar sensors, and cameras monitor other road users and the surroundings.
With the autonomous ‘ID Pilot’ mode enabled, the front seats could be swiveled round by 180 degrees to face passengers in the back of the van.
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