VW’s bus for mod­ern-day hip­pies

The Star Early Edition - - MOTORING - JESSE ADAMS

THE TERM ‘green’ meant some­thing al­to­gether dif­fer­ent back in the day when the orig­i­nal VW mi­crobus was the ve­hi­cle (and of­ten home) of choice for bands of trav­el­ling hip­pies.

The new­est one, a con­cept on show at this week’s Detroit Auto Show called the I.D. Buzz, is a bat­tery-pow­ered and fully au­ton­o­mous bus de­signed to save the en­vi­ron­ment, rather than smoke it.

The two-tone Buzz, which takes some ob­vi­ous styling in­spi­ra­tion from the first 1950 T1 split-win­dow, is based on the same MEB (Mod­u­lar Electric Drive Kit) plat­form as last year’s electric I.D. hatch con­cept, but length­ened to ac­com­mo­date a big­ger body with seat­ing for up to eight peo­ple. In its floor is a pack of batteries with enough power to juice the Buzz for a range of up to 600km, if you trust Euro­pean test cy­cles.

Each axle gets its own electric mo­tor and to­tal sys­tem out­put sits at 270kW, mean­ing this all-wheel driven and nearly silent peo­ple mover can do 0-100km/h in around five sec­onds flat with a top speed of just un­der 160km/h.

VW says the Buzz’s 111kWh batteries can be charged to 80 per­cent in un­der 30 min­utes.

When ac­ti­vated, a fully au­ton­o­mous drive mode called I.D. Pilot sees the steer­ing wheel re­tract and the two front seats swivel around to face the rear in a sort of mo­bile chill cir­cle lay­out.

In self-drive mode the Buzz re­lies on a se­ries of radars, ul­tra­sonic sen­sors and laser cam­eras to make its way safely with­out any driver in­put.

The cen­tre con­sole, which houses a tablet dis­play­ing ve­hi­cle data slides rear­ward along a silver birch­wood floor to be­come a cen­tral ta­ble, and cabin light­ing switches from white to a more re­lax­ing warm hue.

The Buzz’s three seat­ing rows can also be con­fig­ured into an overnight ar­range­ment with a dou­ble bed at the back.

Don’t ex­pect the I.D. Buzz to hit show­room floors any­time soon.

This con­cept car is only a demon­stra­tion of tech­nolo­gies planned for 2020 when Volk­swa­gen will kick off its big electric car of­fen­sive. VW plans to sell one mil­lion cloud-con­nected EVs an­nu­ally by 2025.

It is a far cry from the Kom­bis of yes­ter­year.

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