How to draw attention to a rebranding 101: taking an iconic vehicle, such as a Volkswagen microbus, and give it a high-tech twist. Such is what the newly renamed Volkswagen Group of America’s Innovation and Engineering Center California (IECC, formerly Electronics Research Laboratory, ERL) did. With the renaming also comes with expanded role, but lets be honest here, we couldn’t care less about that; we are here because of the Volkswagen ‘Type 20’ Concept Vehicle.
As you can see, it is the beloved 60s classic VW bus in 2019, made for the future. But the similarity to the classic ride of choice of hippies ends at the retro aesthetic. Beyond that, this concept vehicle is pure high-tech ride, featuring conversational digital assistant, electric drive, holographic infotainment system, biometric identification, and a generative design that juxtaposes its old-school VW bus shell, created by Autodesk.
The vehicle, which started its life as a 1962 Type 2 11-window microbus, has its old innards pulled and replaced with a full BEV drivetrain comprising of a 10 kWh battery, 2,500-watt onboard charger, and an electric motor that puts out 120 HP and 173 lb-ft of torque. The figures are not something to shout about, but that does not take away its allure. Though I thought it could use a set of Moon rims and white wall tires instead of the organic shape wheels. Just saying…
The Volkswagen ‘Type 20’ Concept Vehicle further boasts a custom-designed active pneumatic suspension developed with Porsche that allows for adjustment of the vehicle height via software. The vehicle actually rises when the driver approaches, presumably to enable ease of ingress. The biometric identification features a real-time facial recognition system that uses a 720p wide-angle camera to identify the driver and opens the door so the driver need not to deal with key fob.
And then there are the light up VW logo that, along with the headlights, provide LED feedback to exterior commands. Unfortunately, the Volkswagen ‘Type 20’ Concept Vehicle is not something you can buy. As a consolation, you can drool over it at the IECC where it will be on display.
All images courtesy of Volkswagen.