Volkswagen will follow up its BUDD-e concept from this year's Consumer Electronics Show with a new electric microbus that should be closer to production. The unnamed concept will debut in Detroit next month, and will share its MEB modular electric platform with the I.D. concept that was unveiled in Paris earlier this year.
Way back in January, Volkswagen announced its scalable, modular MEB toolkit with the BUDD-e concept, a van-like concept that drew inspiration from the VW microbus of the 1960s. The automaker calls this latest concept a new member of the I.D. family. From the teaser images VW released, the new concept appears to draw even more heavily from the microbus, with a snub-nosed front end and extra-large VW badge in the center. The vehicle foregoes the conventional headlights of the BUDD-e concept and adopts the LED matrix lighting system of the I.D. concept. Another homage to the Volkswagen bus is a distinctive character line separating a two-tone paintjob. The trim is illuminated and runs the entire length of the body, hugging the slender taillights in back and spanning the rear fascia.
The concept will be powered by two electric motors, one on each axle for all-wheel drive. Just like the I.D. concept, the I.D. bus can retract its steering wheel at the push of the VW logo when in autonomous mode. For self-driving functions, the vehicle will rely on lasers, ultrasonic sensors, radar, and cameras. Because of the skateboard-like platform, the interior will be very spacious. It will also have a wide range of connectivity features.
When we spoke with VW's head of e-mobility Christian Senger in Paris, he hinted that there were many design possibilities for the MEB platform. Volkswagen promised a range of more than 300 miles for its I.D. concept, but said a production version won't arrive until 2020. Expect this van, if produced, to arrive sometime after that.
We'll know more when the I.D. bus concept makes its debut in early January.