High-tech hippies rejoice! Volkswagen’s beloved microbus, which defined the Age of Aquarius, has gotten a digital makeover for the generation of driverless vehicles.
The German automaker unveiled a concept car version of its microbus at the Detroit Auto Show on Sunday evening, and this version of the beloved van, known as the I.D. Buzz, could end up playing a key role in Volkswagen’s plan to sell 1 million electric vehicles annually by 2025.
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Volkswagen said the concept car is the world’s first electric multi-purpose vehicle to be equipped with a fully autonomous driving mode.
The I.D. Buzz, which VW calls the “Microbus for a new era,” will seat up to eight and have two luggage compartments. It can also be adjusted to have two lounge seats.
“Our aim was to come up with something that’s likable, which would touch the heritage of the brand,” Head of Volkswagen Design Klaus Bischoff said in a statement. “The Microbus was always a freedom machine, always about being independent. … With the huge range, the car will allow us to go new places.”
The company said the word “Buzz” in the concept’s name is a play on word “bus” and refers to the silent buzzing of the drive system. I.D. stands for “iconic design,” the company said.
Volkswagen spent most of the last year combating the fallout from a diesel engine emissions scandal, which leads to its decision to shift its focus toward developing electric vehicles.
The scandal erupted after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced in September 2015 that the company admitted to building “defeat device” software into its diesel vehicles. The device turned pollution controls on during tests and off in real-world driving. The scandal has cost VW sales and has tarnished its brand worldwide.
The Buzz is also equipped with an augmented reality heads-up display in the windshield, in which information such as navigation directions are projected as virtual images ahead of the vehicle. “The effect is astonishingly realistic,” according to VW press materials. Noted!