The Groovy Budd-e Concept Is A Breath Of Fresh Air For VW


What a shame then, that the 21st century Microbus won't enter production.

They say actions speak louder than words, and with the reveal of the Budd-e microbus, Volkswagen’s spanking new CEO Matthias Muller was able to follow up dieselgate apologies with a tangible vision of how the carmaker plans to clean up its act. Unveiled at CES in Las Vegas, the electric MPV represents a ‘gateway to the future,’ with the 21st century iteration of the iconic Microbus to take a leading role in VW Group’s electric car initiative.

An electric variant of the Phaeton is in the works, while other dedicated green projects include the Porsche Mission E and Tesla Model X fighter the Audi e-tron quattro. Like the Budd-e, these will be underpinned by VW’s new modular electric platform dubbed ‘MEB,’ which holds a 101-kWh flat battery pack under the floor wholly within the wheelbase. Utilizing the latest in lithium-ion battery tech, VW claims the microbus will boast 373 miles of zero emission range, while fast-charging tech will recharge 80% of the battery in just 15 minutes. Two electric motors power all four wheels for a top speed of 93 mph.

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The motor mounted up front delivers 134 hp and 147 lb-ft of torque, while the one located in the independent rear suspension is rated at 168 hp and 214 lb-ft for a combined total of 302 hp and 361 lb-ft. The Microbus, despite its groovy appearance, will not be remade. Volkswagen is instead using the concept to showoff its upcoming green tech with a promise to roll out a pure EV by the end of the decade. VW’s new corporate grille sports round headlamps, the floating roof houses a solar panel for additional energy storage, and the boxy, upright glasshouse boasts blacked-out pillars. The sliding rear door is perhaps the biggest nod to the original Microbus, but once you step inside its all gesture-based controls and autonomous driving tech.

Camera-based “e-mirrors” sends video footage to the large single pane consisting of three configurable screens behind the steering wheel that features pressure-sensitive touchpads responding to swipes and pressure. There’s also a voice recognition system, activated by simply saying “Hello Budd-e.” It doesn’t get more futuristic than that.

Speaking of which, company boss Dr. Herbert Diess said during VW’s keynote speech that “The future belongs to cars that make everyone happy. We want to create a new experience of mobility." It’s a shame then that only the concepts and tech from the Budd-e will make it to production, and not the Microbus reboot.

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