Volkswagen has broken out of the retro rut of previous micro bus concepts, with a fresh new electric-drive concept van that promises a shocking 373 miles of electric driving range in a machine whose style owes nothing to history's hippie van.
Though its name seems to refer to a favorite consumable of those groovy van drivers, the BUDD-e concept is the first vehicle to show Volkswagen's forthcoming Modular Electric Platform. That platform will underpin a variety of future VW EVs, so the BUDD-e gives us our first glimpse of some of its capabilities.
BUDD-e also previews future driver interface systems for Volkswagen, including a wrap-around command screen that incorporates both instruments and navigation displays. These systems respond to the driver's gestures rather than touch screen input, saving the reach to the screens.
The BUDD-e's modular electric platform puts a massive 101 kilowatt-hour battery pack beneath the floor, with electric drive motors at both the front and rear axles providing all-wheel drive all-weather security. For comparison, the largest available Tesla Model S battery pack is 85 kWh.
The company says the BUDD-e is a forecast of what a new EV circa 2019 could look like, though it is not announcing the van as a 2019 model. VW predicts that by that time it will be possible to give this enormous battery pack an 80 percent charge in just 15 minutes.
That's half the time it currently takes to put a similar charge into a Model S battery using one of Tesla's Supercharger stations, so that bold prediction will require more new charging infrastructure to be installed.
Regardless, how the production model eventually turns out, it will be a far cry from the smokey, sluggish micro bus of old.
Oh, wait, maybe all that smoke wasn't from the engine?