Volkswagen launches ‘smart' electric revamp of minivan
LAS VEGASJan 07, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
Jan 07, 2016 12:00 am
Meet the revamped Volkswagen Kombi. Once a hippie favorite, the minivan has been transformed into an electric, connected vehicle of the future.
BUDD-e, unveiled late Tuesday in Las Vegas, is "a new concept for long-distance electric vehicles," explained VW brand chief Herbert Diess on the eve of the official opening of the Consumer Electronics Show.
The electric minivan is rather modern but clearly a nod to that symbol of the hippie movement of the 1960s and '70s - and idol of surfers and families - known as the Kombi or Bulli. Volkswagen officially stopped production of the microbus about two years ago.
The new version is filled with technology that makes it "intelligent" and "social," with a new electronic interface that is both intuitive and interactive. "Door handles are so 2016," Diess proclaimed, as he noted how the model responds to verbal commands or gestures.
BUDD-e can also communicate with connected devices at home.
So you can check from the comfort of your van if there's enough beer left in the fridge before inviting friends over to watch a football match or to see who's come knocking at your door to let them in or ward them off. It's also based on the future modular production platform for VW electric vehicles, with a more efficient battery that is located under the floor.
It charges up to 80 percent in just 30 minutes and can travel up to 373 miles (600 kilometers) on a full charge - equivalent to today's average car running on a full tank.
Although it's just a prototype for now, "BUDD-e could be a reality by the end of the decade," Diess said.
The auto group also presented a second electric prototype, the e-Golf touch, which is due to hit the market within a year, according to VW's Volkmar Tanneberger.
He called it a "smartphone on wheels," with verbal commands and gestures replacing buttons, which has a new generation of infotainment systems and is compatible with almost any smartphone, and can also be charged wirelessly. You can also use a smartwatch to unlock the car, turn on the heat or air conditioning from a distance while the vehicle is still charging, or receiving notifications when someone else - say a teen - is driving the car and is driving too fast or exiting a predefined zone. Although the firm was presenting electric vehicles at CES, Diess said Volkswagen was determined to resolve the scandal over pollution test cheating in its diesel cars.