LAS VEGAS – The Volkswagen Budd-e concept, an electric van inspired by the German automaker’s iconic Microbus “hippie” camper, was unveiled at the 2016 CES on Tuesday.
The boxy concept, which emphasizes connectivity over counterculture, heralds a future design direction for Volkswagen and is the first vehicle based on the company’s all-new Modular Electric Platform that is designed for plug-in vehicles.
Volkswagen did not confirm production plans for the Budd-e, saying only that the concept “demonstrates what electric mobility could be like by the year 2019.”
A production version of the Budd-e conceivably could make friends with Baby Boomers who fondly remember the Summer of Love and Millennial buyers looking for a vehicle with zero emissions and a lounge vibe.
The concept has a range of up to 373 miles and can be recharged in about 15 minutes, a major leap forward for electric vehicles. It is also a packaging wonder, given that there’s plenty of room for occupants and their gear, along with the various EV components.
“The new platform is designed to have the space for electric drive components and large batteries while maintaining interior space and driving dynamics,” VW said.
The 101 kWh battery is flat to save space, while front and rear motors power all four wheels. The concept has a top speed of 93 mph.
The exterior mirrors “the charm of classic Volkswagen vans,” the automaker said, with a somewhat sleeker shape than the original Microbus and a two-tone color treatment.
Other details include 21-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a large “drop box” in the rear and a front VW logo with integrated LED modules that create a kind of psychedelic external ambient light.
The cabin is decidedly post-modern.
All of Budd-e’s systems are operated “intuitively” by gesture control. Occupants – including the driver and passenger – also can control functions by voice commands.
The instrument cluster and the center console infotainment system are combined to form a single information hub.
VW’s new multifunction steering wheel skips the switches, operating instead by haptic feedback or fingertip pressure.
The Budd-e is able to communicate with your Smart home or office, VW said.
While the VW concept has no direct rivals, likely competitors include the Kia Soul EV and Tesla Model X.
Edmunds says: The VW Budd-e is a great example of the intersection between cars and connectivity.