How do you salvage a tainted image and divert people attention from a looming court case for flaunting fuel emission regulations? Well, calling a press conference and sincerely apologizing would do for me but wait a minute…Volkswagen did more than that.
The scandal-rocked automaker launched a pure-electric van which we can say is purposefully built to conjure warm feelings from its customers, authorities and the general public (With its 0% C02 emission it is in a whole opposite realm of the diesel engines involved in the scandal). The vehicle which was unveiled on the eve of Consumer Electronic s Show won the best innovation award sponsored by the Engadget magazine courtesy of its exceptionally efficient battery.
In winning the award, the Budd-e-Concept beat a quadcopter and a drone technology add on, the other two finalists. VW has been planning to release such a vehicle for a long time; in 2001, the automaker showcased the Microbus concept at Detroit Auto Show and reminded us of the concept with the smaller Bulli concept in 2011. The Budd-e comes as an evolved model of the two. All in all, the automaker should be planning a production version rather than show us a concept after the other of the same vehicle.
Still it seems VW is long away from releasing a production model since they have only promised that only some of the Budd-e features will be adopted in other models. Anyway, read along to find out why this automobile is rated so highly in terms of innovativeness;
Volkswagen BUDD-e Concept Exterior
The Volkswagen Budd-e concept will be the first of a brand new generation of plug-in electric vehicles. It will be based on MEB platform specifically developed to optimize space usage and accommodate large batteries for plug-in vehicles.
By all standards, the Volkswagen BUDD-e will be a compact MPV. It will stretch 181 inches long with a width of 72.2 inches and a height of 72.2 inches. It will also have a long wheelbase of 124.1 inches and short overhangs which make it look elongated and planted to the ground.
It will feature a two-tone color finish (white and gold). It will also feature LED lights on its illuminated VW logo fitted on the center of the front grille and on its headlights, taillights and fog lights. Mirrors are replaced with cameras and the rear features a continuous strip of LED lighting which results in a wraparound look. Its doors are operated via infrared sensors and one only needs to wave at the door.
Volkswagen BUDD-e Concept Interior
The Budd-e will accommodate 2 rows of seats. The rear is fitted with a wraparound bench that adds a touch of lounge-like atmosphere, a large entertainment system behind the driver’s seat and carpeted floor. The front passenger seat according to Volkswagen sketches can swivel to enable the driver to face rear passengers.
At the front, VW designers have combined its instrument cluster with its infotainment system to a single unit which is mounted behind the steering wheel. The new system will offer navigation directions, driving information, entertainment information as well as video stream for its camera-based mirrors.
Its 2-spoke steering wheel is also fitted with pressure-sensitive touch pads and swipes which replace traditional buttons. What’s more, the vehicle can be controlled via gestures, touch-screen or via voice control. To activate voice recognition, one needs to announce “Hello BUDD-e”.
The vehicle will also offer advanced connectivity with your home enabling features such as checking your security cameras. This is in line with VW’s vision of a world of interconnectivity between vehicles and our homes) Climate control systems are wisely fitted at the front of the MVP which allows inclusion of larger filters and reduction of fan noise in the cabin.
Engine Specs and output
Under the hood is where the “Buddy”…sorry, Budd-e-excels. It is equipped with a gigantic 101 kWh lithium-ion battery. This is what won the Budd-e the best innovation award at the ECS. The battery gives the MPV a 233 miles range.
In addition, the battery can be replenished to 80% from 0% in only fifteen minutes using a fast charging technology; the automaker also plans to offer cordless inductive charging. The vehicle is estimated to hit a top speed of 93 mph (theoretical).
The battery is fitted fully flat underneath occupying almost the entire floor which helps the MPV retain huge van-like cabin space. The vehicle will be equipped with two motors which will drive all wheels.
Coincidence or excellent timing
The fact that the Budd-e concept was revealed a day after the Department of Justice filled a case against VW for cheating on emission tests raises eyebrows. Though the timing might be coincidental, the concept is intentional.
The fact that the automaker only announced the MEB development in October last year and 2 months later is announcing a concept based on the platform is indicates to their intent to minimize the extent of damage their reputation.
Coincidence or not, the idea is ripe and the time is right for a remake of the Microbus. What more, if it is reputation they want to salvage, a Microbus will do them wonders.
VW BUDD-e Concept NAIAS 2016