If you never owned a VW Microbus but wish you had, you’ll get your chance when the next version debuts in 2020. The BUDD-e all-electric minibus won’t look much like the 23-window hippiemobiles from the 50’s and early 60’s, but the appeal carries on. After the BUDD-e concept vehicle unveiling in early January at CES 2016, positive public reaction was so strong that Volkswagen gave the go-ahead for actual production.
Perhaps it’s just American nostalgia for all-things-Volkswagen, pre-Dieselgate that is, but now the BUDD-e has become an award winner, according to Electrek. This week the Annual North American Concept Vehicle of the Year Awards picked the BUDD-e as the “2016 Concept Truck of the Year.”
When the BUDD-e does launch it may have competition from other brands, including Tesla’s promised minibus, but the Tesla, however cool and futuristic, will not have the nostalgic appeal of a Volkswagen van. With its 101kWh battery, the BUDD-e is expected to be rated for a 233-mile range based on the EPA drive cycle. According to Volkswagen, the battery will be capable of an 80-percent recharge in 15 minutes.
The BUDD-e will be the first VW built using the company’s Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB). With the batteries located beneath the vehicle floor and an electric motor on each axle, the BUDD-e interior promises to be spacious, especially considering its 181-inch length and 76-inch width.
In addition to the all-electric powertrain, Volkswagen America has said the BUD-e will incorporate intuitive Gesture 2.0 to operate interior and exterior features along with voice control. By using this combination, buttons, slide controls, and dials will be minimized. If you want the heat turned up or a door opened, to give two examples, just gesture or ask for it. VW also promises seamless communications with smart home, smart car, and infotainment features, though specifics aren’t available.
Production vehicles based on concept cars (and trucks) are often only vaguely reminiscent of the original. In the case of the BUDD-e, however, it looks like Volkswagen brought a concept to CES that it knew it could produce. Now the focus is on getting it to market.