Volkswagen Reveals BUDD-e Electric Car
Microbus-Inspired EV is Less of a Van, More of a Hatch
Well, that’s a little disappointing.
After weeks of teasing us with dreams of a Microbus redux, Volkswagen unveiled the BUDD-e electric vehicle for the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). And instead of the retro-styled fullsize van we were expecting, we were given a compact-hatch concept in the vein of the Chevrolet Bolt or Kia Soul. While there’s nothing wrong with the BUDD-e in general, it’s not the Volkswagen van we were hoping for.
Still, there’s a lot to like about the BUDD-e, even if it’s not necessarily the kind of vehicle we’d talk about in Truck Trend. Volkswagen claims that it will have a wide-open-spaces range of 373 miles on a single charge, something that would make electric vehicles far more feasible for many Americans. The battery is located in the floor, as on a Tesla Model X, to give it a low center of gravity and more dynamic performance. The battery powers two electric motors (one on each drive axle), giving the BUDD-e all-wheel-drive traction. Cordless inductive charging could make juicing up the BUDD-e more convenient as well. Owners of the e-VW could install a charging pad on their garage floors, then simply park on top of it to charge their vehicles.
At 181 inches long, the BUDD-e is smaller than a domestic Dodge Grand Caravan, but its 124-inch wheelbase eclipses that vehicle’s. That’s got to bode well for interior packaging, and very short overhangs give it a pretty athletic look. Shadows of Microbuses past show up in the two-tone Nevada White and Phoenix Copper exterior paint, and the large, centrally located VW logo look appropriate. A flat roofline furthers the connection, and the BUDD-e is very aerodynamically refined, with flow-through D-pillars, a subtle rear window spoiler, and smooth bodysides free of mirrors or door handles.
Inside, a cool two-spoke wheel reminds us of the old Volkswagen Transporter T1, but the gadget-heavy interior places the BUDD-e firmly in the 21st century. That wheel is completely devoid of switches or buttons, but drivers can activate a variety of features thanks to its smooth, haptic-feedback surfaces. While we prefer physical buttons to touch units in general, there’s no denying the BUDD-e’s sleek look. Additionally, interior and exterior door handles are operated via gestures, rather than physical touch, and those doors grant access to an exceptionally airy interior, with a wraparound, lounge-style rear bench and twin bucket seats up front. Screens abound in the VW, with a center stack infotainment unit, massive rear display, and front-passenger touch screen.
Yeah, it’s not the Transporter-style utility vehicle we were hoping for, but it’s still kinda cool, and it’s loaded with sophisticated new technology, which is arguably the point of any CES concept. Volkswagen says a vehicle like the BUDD-e could be on the road by 2019, so if you like it, we advise you to be patient.