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Hey there BUDD-e! 7 things you should know about VW's electric Microbus

2016-01-06 14:31

FUTURE ELECTRIC KOMBI: Volkswagen showed its BUDD-e, a battery-powered van at the CES International in Las Vegas. Image: Volkswagen

  • Modular Electric Toolkit
  • 101kWh battery, 600km range
  • Next-gen display, ergonomic concept
  • Smart-device linking

Las Vegas, Nevada - Volkswagen debuts what could be the style and technology direction of its future models with a new concept revealed at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The new zero-emissions van, dubbed BUDD-e, is the first vehicle based on the automaker's new Modular Electric Platform (MEB) designed specifically for plug-in vehicles.

The concept van measures 4.5m long, 1.9m wide and 1.8m tall with a wheelbase of 3.1m. Its moniker is a play on Bulli, the original name of the VW Microbus in Germany.

'Up to 600km range'

According to VW: "With a range of up to 600km coupled with a charismatic, iconic design, this vehicle successfully incorporates Volkswagen’s heritage while providing a glimpse into the brand’s future.

Gallery: 2015 Volkswagen BUDD-e concept

"With the BUDD-e Volkswagen has developed a vehicle that is more thoroughly connected with its surroundings than any car before it. An integral automotive component in the Internet of Things (IoT), BUDD-e is capable of seamlessly communicating with your Smart Home or office."

Here are seven things you need to know about VW's new EV concept:

1 MEB - new architecture for VW's electric vehicles

BUDD-e is the first concept car developed by the Volkswagen Group that is underpinned by the new Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB). The van's 101 kWh battery is flat, to save space, and integrated into almost the entire vehicle floor. It powers two electric motors, one to drive each axle.

The front and rear motors power all four wheels and enable a top speed of 150km/h.

BUDD-e demonstrates the direction of VW's electric vehicles set to be rolled out by 2019. Volkswagen’s new MEB platform will enable a series production car to have a pure electric range that, it claims, is on par with petrol-powered cars by the end of the decade.

The time required to charge the batteries to 80% capacity is anticipated to be reduced to about 15 minutes by 2020, an operational breakthrough for EVs.

Watch: Volkswagen unveils BUDD-e at CES

2 Next-gen human-machine interface

The BUDD-e’s freely programmable instrument cluster is an evolution of the Active Info Display first introduced by Volkswagen in 2015. A 12.3" curved display with a surface consisting of three individually configurable sections is centrally positioned, right in front of the driver.

Its Active Info Display, is a freely programmable instrument cluster located in front of the driver; the second is a head unit which was once a separate screen for the infotainment system. Active Info Display captures the conceptual focus on drive information, while the head unit caters to the infotainment needs of all passengers on board.

3 Voice controls for driver and passengers

All of BUDD-e’s systems are operated intuitively by gesture control, touchscreen (displays and touch slider) or voice control. The driver can choose between various intuitive control modes (multi-modal interaction). For example, a simple “Hello BUDD-e” activates the vehicle’s voice control.

The system also offers completely natural speech interaction. For example, if the driver asks “turn the heat up a bit, please”, the car will respond immediately and appropriately. The system is also able to locate the passenger giving the commands, and react accordingly. If, for instance, someone sitting in the left rear seat says “It’s too hot here”, BUDD-e can immediately lower the temperature in that passenger’s zone.

4 Multi-function steering wheel 3.0.

Volkswagen’s new multi-function steering wheel is completely switchless, operating via haptic feedback on its smooth surfaces. Individual functions are activated by pressure, or through a swipe gesture. Touching the surface gives the driver palpable haptic “pre-sensing” feedback, allowing them to localize the function. Upon activation of a function, there is another, stronger haptic reaction, making operation more intuitive than present day solutions.

Operation is also no longer limited to the shift paddle, but extends over the entire surface of the operating stack. Raised patterns on the buttons make it easy to find one’s way around the wheel.

5 Gesture control 2.0.

Volkswagen has significantly enhanced the gesture control system presented in the Golf R Touch at CES in 2015.

In the BUDD-e, experts from the Body Electronics division have incorporated sensor technology already capable of recognizing people as they are approaching the vehicle. For the exterior, this is accomplished through the use of infra-red sensors.

An intuitive hand gesture opens the BUDD-e’s sliding door. A simple foot movement of the “Virtual Pedal 3.0” opens the electrically operated tailgate, marking a further development of the “Easy Open” function. The gesture control system inside the BUDD-e’s interior is more intuitive than ever before, with the maximum operating distance having been significantly increased. Cameras are used to register if a passenger in the rear compartment wants to open the sliding door, for instance.

6 A car for the 'Internet of Things'

BUDD-e will not only provide a connection to an interconnected world, but create an interactive interface to its surroundings. It is conceivable that in the near future, consumables—such as windshield wiper blades—or other kinds of personal items could not only be ordered from the car, but also delivered to it using a “Drop Box”  that is accessible from the outside. The vehicle “reads” an access code to open the Drop Box for authorised parcel delivery services, using a digital key, essentially making the vehicle a mobile mailbox.

7 Forget something in the van? Budd-e will remind you

BUDD-e can remind its occupants if they have forgotten anything in the car, via their smart watch and/or smartphone. You can also find things in the car using “Home-Net don’t forget”. Through an inventory list, the driver or passengers can see everything that has been put in the car, and if they are still there.

The intelligent “Reminder” also informs when particular items should be remembered. For example, if rain is forecast, BUDD-e will notify the driver if there is an umbrella in the car. Relevant items are fitted with a transmitter (a small sticker) in advance, making it possible for the car to locate them. The “Home-Net don’t forget” app uses an encrypted wireless interface, meaning that it is impossible for the items to be located from outside the car, or by unauthorized users.


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