Remember the Volkswagen Microbus aka the Type 2? Those old enough may recognize the van as the Kombi sold in our market. It was popular during the flower-power era of the ’60s as family transport.
Those who miss this iconic VW can rejoice as the German carmaker has just unveiled the Microbus for the 21st century--the BUDD-e electric vehicle concept. It was one of the presentations at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The exterior is a dead giveaway of the vehicle’s links to VW’s past. The profile features an elongated roofline, large windows, and an overall shape reminiscent of the original van. In fact, the front end has a V-shaped styling cue that’s a throwback to the old Microbus and Beetle. All this is mixed with modern touches like 21-inch alloy wheels and LED light modules on the front that extend all around the BUDD-e. Moreover, the glossy black D-pillars blend nicely with the Nevada White and Copper Roof two-tone paint finish. It’s a modern-meets-classic design motif.
What really brings the BUDD-e to the new millennium is what’s under the skin. Gone are the air-cooled motors of yore. In their place are two electric motors--one for each axle. These new-age mills provide an estimated driving range of 600km on a single charge. This puts them at par with today’s breed of gasoline powerplants, and addresses a major concern of many about electric propulsion and range (or lack thereof).
The BUDD-e is the first VW to utilize the Modular Electric Platform architecture. This new platform is set to underpin the brand’s upcoming range of electric vehicles that are set for rollout by the end of the decade. They are so designed to provide maximum driving pleasure, long-range driving, and optimum space for passengers and cargo in a footprint that’s a perfect fit for today’s cramped urban environments.
Another cutting-edge innovation here is the user interface. The interior is a clean sheet of panels that allow for programmable displays that can show navigation, vehicle information, infotainment options, and connectivity. The car itself is one large Internet portal that occupants can use to interact with the information superhighway. And we want to mention that all these functions are operated by gesture control.
The BUDD-e also hasn’t forgotten its potential role as the new family car. It will give the owner the ability to interact with his smart home right from their vehicle. Through the Internet, the lady of the house can program the microwave oven to cook dinner, or lock the house, for instance. It’s the perfect way to run things at home from the driver’s seat.
At present, the Volkswagen BUDD-e is merely a geek’s delight of a concept. But if all goes well, it does give us a glimpse into what the future Microbus could look like, along with what’s in store for motorists down the line. And honestly, we like what we see.