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Volkswagen shows its hippie heart, approves the BUDD-e microbus for production

If you thought Volkswagen’s all-electric BUDD-e concept that debuted earlier this month at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was all hype, think again.

CAR is reporting that Volkswagen has greenlit the microbus for production sometime before the end of the decade. The new “slugworm” will be based on VW’s MEB modular electric platform. “[The] basic idea is to develop a modular toolkit and take this flat battery idea into serial production, one motor on the front, one on the rear. The California and Transporter will continue separately as combustion engines,” said Dr. Volkmar Tanneberger, head of Volkswagen’s electric development.

More of a surprise is that the real-world microbus will look very similar to the BUDD-e concept, according to Dr. Tanneberger. In the fallout of the German automaker’s dieselgate scandal, some might be intrigued that VW is building such a seemingly niche product, but in fact, the BUDD-e’s all-electric “SUV/crossover” credentials fit perfectly within the brand’s plan to shift focus from diesel models.

The company recently announced that it will introduce 20 more electrified vehicles by 2020, so expect several more EV-versions of current cars or totally new models to crop up in the automaker’s production schedule shortly. There’s a good chance the Beetle will be among the electrified platforms, meaning hippies will have more than one option to relive their glory days in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

As for the concept, the BUDD-e name is a play on Bulli, the original name of the VW Microbus in Germany. Unlike the original, however, the concept packs two electric motors (one at each axle) for a combined 373 miles of range and a potential top speed of 93 mph.

Considering the European’s test cycle is a bit different from our own here in the states, the production Microbus (assuming it adopts a similar powertrain) should offer a range somewhere in the 200-300 mile ballpark. Then again, battery advancements between now and 2020 could not only improve overall range, but rapid charge times even beyonf the BUDD-e’s 15-minute refill to 80 percent capacity.

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