The all-electric Volkswagen Budd-e microvan concept, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last month, is reportedly poised to enter production in the near future.
In 2011, the world had its first glimpse of Volkswagen’s new microvan concept with the Bulli, which introduced a funky design and retro paintwork that threw back to the T1 Type 2 Kombi’s of the '60s and '70s.
Now, the BUDD-e, something of a revised Bulli, could potentially represent one of Volkswagen’s first long-range electric vehicles and a key demonstrator of Volkswagen’s new and upcoming electric technologies.
It is expected that the BUDD-e would be built upon the MEB modular electric platform - VW’s electric architecture that will form the basis of several VW Group electric models in the future.
Speaking with the UK's Car magazine this week, Volkswagen's head of electric development and driving, Dr. Volkmar Tanneberger, said that the MEB architecture is designed to be used in a relatively uniform but customisable fashion across multiple models.
“[The] basic idea is to develop a modular toolkit and take this flat battery idea into serial production, one motor on the front, one on the rear," Tanneberger said.
"The California [camper van] and Transporter [panel van and minibus line] will continue separately as combustion engines”
Powering the BUDD-e concept are two electric motors, one at each axle, with current being drawn from a 101kWh lithium-ion battery pack that is incorporated into the vehicle floor.
The outputs from the electric motors were not revealed at CES, however Volkswagen has reported a driving range of 600 kilometers from a single charge, based on the new European Driving Cycle System.
With such a range, the new VW concept could potentially put the likes of a Tesla model S P90D square in its sights in terms of distance off a single charge.
Volkswagen claims that by 2019, its electric cars could be recharged to 80 per cent within 15 minutes - an improvement which, along with battery advancements and an increase in charging stations, would go a long way towards reducing 'range anxiety'.
The BUDD-e concept also incorporates VW’s evolving design language, including glasshouse styling that stretches all the way around to the rear of the vehicle. One surprising departure, however, is the removal of the well known Kombi V-shaped altar, which the newer concept replaces with a tall grille and integrated headlights.
Interior features, such as the curved Active Information Display, with functions like gesture and voice control over three separate displays, are otherwise yet to be confirmed on any future production models. Volkswagen's stand at CES did, however, preview the carmaker's next-generation infotainment plans.
As Tannenberger has reportedly stated to Car Magazine, “You will see a car that looks a lot like this, on the MEB platform, reach production. I can’t say exactly when, but 2020 or thereabouts.”
Further information on VW’s concept are detailed in CarAdvice’s report: ‘Volkswagen Budd-e EV concept revealed at CES’