Volkswagen has finally unveiled 100% electric version of Camper

Volkswagen BUDD-e is the very first vehicle based on MEB(Modular Electric Toolkit) platform that features 101 kWh battery, up-to-date infotainment system and other cool stuff like gesture control –system that enables intuitive operation of interior and exterior features.

1/28/16 4:00 am chumakdenis 1

Truth be told, I didn’t intend to write an article about any of Volkswagen vehicles – probably, like many other customers, I’m still mad at VW AG because of the fake emission numbers.

Nonetheless, whatever my feelings were, I decided to change my mind when I saw her…a real beauty.

A vehicle that is almost as beautiful as Camper, a vehicle that has so many cool gizmos that I even lost count of them.

Meet, Volkswagen BUDD-e, an all-electric successor of the legendary Camper.

BUDD-e

Making its debut at the 2016 Consumer Electronic Show, the small electric van named BUDD-e –yes, that’s official name of the car –attracted so many visitors that other automakers were kind of jealous.

Well, such a huge attention comes as no surprise due to the fact that the BUDD-e is the successor of the legendary Camper – yes, Camper is the van where our hippie dippy grandparents were making love, not war– and such ‘guests’ are rare, really rare.

But how about the ‘stuffing’?

Does it really as good as it sounds?

Let’s figure it out.

MEB platform

VW BUDD-e is the very first vehicle based on the all-new Modular Electric Platform (MEB) that is designed specifically for next-gen vehicles.

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MEB stands for Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB), which VW says will offer a “fundamental change in electric cars and ushers in a revolution in automotive technology, leaving today’s fossil-fuel powered internal combustion engines and drivetrains in the past”.

Its architecture heralds a fundamental change in electric cars and ushers in a revolution in automotive technology, leaving today’s fossil-fuel powered internal combustion engines and drivetrains in the past.

Here’s what so special about it:

1)platform has enough space for electric drive components and large batteries;

2)new and enhanced assistance systems  provide passengers with safer transport;

3)new battery and electric drive componentry enable inexpensive access to e-mobility.

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“Volkswagen’s new MEB platform will enable a series production car to have a pure electric range that is on par with today’s gasoline-powered cars by the end of the decade.”

Drivetrain architecture

The new MEB delivers a drivetrain architecture, that is specifically tailored for the integration of compact electric motors and high-performance, highly-efficient batteries. The 101 kWh battery is flat and integrated into almost the entire vehicle floor. It powers two electric motors, one to drive each axle.

Motors

The front and rear motors power all four wheels and enable a top speed of 93 mph (150km/h). The total range of up to 373 miles (600 kilometers) is achieved on a full charge, putting the BUDD-e on a level playing field with today’s gasoline-powered cars. Like today’s electric vehicles, the BUDDE-e offers several levels of plugged-in charging with the added benefit of cordless inductive charging.

Heating and air conditioning unit

The heating and air conditioning unit has been completely integrated in the front end of the car which allows for significantly more available space, improves air quality (thanks to larger and more robust filters), and results in a reduction of fan noise inside the cabin for excellent acoustics.

Dimensions

The concept van is 181 inches long, 76.3 inches wide and 72.2 inches high – the vehicle is somewhere between the Touran and the Multivan T6.

Regarding other dimensions, it has relatively long wheelbase (124.1 inches) and very short overhangs (27 inches at the front and 28.9 inches and the rear).

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Exterior

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The concept has a two-tone color scheme, with its body painted in “Nevada White” below the window edge, and the roof in “Phoenix Copper.”

The area around the VW logo (front end) can be backlit by integrated LED modules in a number of different ways, creating an external ambient light that tapers towards the sides, and a narrow stripe that continues all the way around the van. The main headlights, which also use LED technology, are placed high up, while transparent surfaces to the left and right of the headlights house integrated LED indicators that carry into the vehicle’s silhouette. Viewed from the front, the V-shaped design of these styling cues resemble elements from the original Volkswagen Microbus and Beetle, with a futuristic flare that provides an entirely new interpretation of the brand’s design DNA.

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The van’s silhouette is characterized by a flat and elongated roof line, long windows with glazed A-pillars, 21-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, and light modules that start at the front and reach around the vehicle’s flanks.

 A narrow LED stripe, which runs all the way round the car, acts as a character line and delivers exterior ambient lighting. The silhouette comes across as especially clean, thanks to an absence of door handles and wing mirrors, as these components have been completely redesigned and replaced by electronic solutions.

Flared D-pillars, which also contain the LED strip for the rear lights, accentuate the design further.

At the rear, the BUDD-e’s aerodynamic design promotes airflow through the gloss black D-pillars, reducing aerodynamic drag and simultaneously optimizing rear downforce. Its clean and iconic design continues all the way to the rear, with a large tailgate, reminiscent of the original Volkswagen minibus.

LED taillight strips reach up into the D-pillars, and the circumferential ambient light give BUDD-e a unique design unlike anything on the road. Last but not least, a C-shaped LED signature surrounds the extractable Drop Box.

Interior

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The interior style of the BUDD-e is characterized by a completely new and innovative human-machine interface -- the instrumentation and operating concept of the future. The design is extremely clean and intuitive to use. The technical architecture of the infotainment and control systems, as well as their design, make a quantum leap akin to the jump from flip phones to smartphones or from analog timepieces to smart watches.

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With BUDD-e’s interface design, Volkswagen eliminates the traditional distinction between the electronic instrument cluster in front of the driver and the center console infotainment system. In a move towards comprehensive digitalization and the individualization of the driver’s workplace, these two areas have been merged to form a single information hub.

The idea behind the navigation panel is rooted in the car’s original function: driving. Behind the panel resides a sliding 3D navigation map with graphics, which becomes the matrix of an interactive human-machine interface (HMI). This is accomplished via two physically separate displays that blend into one, both optically and functionally.

The first component, Active Info Display, is a freely programmable instrument cluster located in front of the driver; the second is a head unit which was once a separate screen for the infotainment system. Active Info Display captures the conceptual focus on drive information, while the head unit caters to the infotainment needs of all passengers on board. Both of these areas form a united visual and textual environment, as the navigation graphics and the arrangement of media content such as the display of Points of Interest (POI), playlists, apps (App-Connect) and online services (Car-Net) are freely configurable.

Additionally, the main points and content can also be swapped between the Active Info Display and the head unit.

All of BUDD-e’s systems are operated intuitively by gesture control, touchscreen (displays and touch slider) or voice control. The driver can choose between various intuitive control modes (multi-modal interaction).

For instance, a simple “Hello BUDD-e” activates the vehicle’s voice control. The system also offers completely natural speech interaction.

In a way of example, if the driver asks “turn the heat up a bit, please”, the car will respond immediately and appropriately.

The system is also able to locate the passenger giving the commands, and react accordingly.

If, for instance, someone sitting in the left rear seat says “It’s too hot here”, BUDD-e can immediately lower the temperature in that passenger’s zone.

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The BUDD-e’s freely programmable instrument cluster is an evolution of the Active Info Display first introduced by Volkswagen in 2015. A 12.3-inch curved display with a surface consisting of three individually configurable sections is centrally positioned, right in front of the driver.

Infotainment system

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In Section I, “Drive”, the center of the Active Info Display, the current travel route is highlighted through a 3D map including buildings and points of interest as well as navigation instructions. The edges of the navigation image are simultaneously the background of the entire display. In Section II, “Control”, vehicle status and assistance system information is displayed, as well as the current trip data from the on-board computer, left of the Active Info Display.

In Section III, “Consume”, infotainment content such as “Audio”, “Messages”, “Calendar” and “Weather” are displayed on the right. This layout, designed to concentrate on the route and primarily for driver use, is “Driving mode”.

Alternatively, as previously outlined, there is a “Travel mode”, in which the details of the route are displayed on the head unit instead, allowing route guidance and planning by the passengers. The fuel consumption data (left), speed indicator (middle) and information on the energy reserves and range (right) are always displayed in a constant position at the bottom section of the display.

The head unit, the part of the new HMI easily seen and used by front-and rear-seat passengers, is located in the middle of the dashboard. Its 13.3-inch display is linked to the Active Info Display, both graphically and via software. The head unit displays the extended 3D navigation map (including buildings) as a default setting. The top level of its surface consists of freely assignable tiles that are available in two different sizes. Up to eight tiles in total can be arranged next to each other.

Through this, passengers can display “Trip data“, “Audio” (playlist/song/cover) or “Messages” in “Driving mode.” “Travel mode” puts the emphasis on graphical representations of travel content.

A “Home” button in the middle of the head unit takes the user straight out of each menu, back to the top level menu.

Integrated men tab

Similar to smartphones, a menu tab is integrated at the top of the screen. Opening this menu permits quick and easy access to key functions and menu items. These include vehicle functions such as opening and closing the hatch or sliding door, and menu items like “Music”, “Places”, “Images”, “Phone”, “Connected Home”, and “Videos.”

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Information on basic functions such as climate control and seat heating is also shown at the bottom of the display, where the all-important button for switching between different modes also resides.

An “inbox“ sited to the right of the display can be used to send passenger content to the head unit. The head unit is fitted with proximity sensors that detect an approaching hand and smoothly switch its screen from display to operating mode, allowing users to scroll through audio playlists and other functionality.

Drivers can also toggle from “Driving mode” to “Travel mode” at any given moment. The Active Info Display will continue to focus on specific navigation information, while the representation of the current route is moved to the right onto the head unit, allowing it to correspond to points of interest, which are now shown in greater detail.

This functionality makes it easier and more straightforward for anyone on board to locate points of interest.

Meantime, the default displays on the Active Info Display continue to provide the driver with the most important information for the journey. Switching between modes can be done by gesture control, using the “Home” button, or through the redesigned multifunction steering wheel.

e-Mirror

This feature integrates the displays of the digital wing mirrors (e-Mirror).

Images come from two external cameras, which feed into multifunction displays. When stationary, the driver and front-seat passenger can also use these panels to open and close the electric doors. The display on the driver’s side is 7.9 inches in size and the front-seat passenger has a 5.9-inch screen.

Multifunction steering wheel 3.0

5609.jpgVolkswagen’s new multifunction steering wheel is completely switchless, operating via haptic feedback on its smooth surfaces.

 Individual functions are activated by pressure, or through a swipe gesture. Touching the surface gives the driver palpable haptic “pre-sensing” feedback, allowing them to localize the function.

Upon activation of a function, there is another, stronger haptic reaction, making operation more intuitive than present day solutions.

Operation is also no longer limited to the shift paddle, but extends over the entire surface of the operating stack. Raised patterns on the buttons make it easy to find one’s way around the wheel. The driver is also given visual feedback on the selected functions by the Active Info Display.

For example, the cover of the song that is currently being played is displayed in the appropriate window. At the same time, icons appear at the edges of the square window -- in all four corners. These four icons (scroll up or down, sound and menu) directly match the corresponding directions of the switches on the steering wheel’s operating area, making even the most complex operating sequences simple and intuitive.

Functions such as volume control or zooming into the navigation display can alternatively be controlled through a new touch slider.

This is a further enhancement of the system presented at CES in 2015 in the Golf R Touch concept.

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This new stage of development is characterized by higher sensor resolution, clearly noticeable for driver and front-seat passenger alike, due to the system’s optimized precision and performance. This enables the touch slider to recognize not only the number of fingers on the slider, but their motion as well.

Gesture control 2.0

 Volkswagen has significantly enhanced the gesture control system presented in the Golf R Touch at the CES in 2015.

In the BUDD-e, experts from the Body Electronics division have incorporated sensor technology already capable of recognizing people as they are approaching the vehicle.

For the exterior, this is accomplished through the use of infra-red sensors. An intuitive hand gesture opens the BUDD-e’s sliding door. A simple foot movement of the “Virtual Pedal 3.0” opens the electrically operated tailgate, marking a further development of the “Easy Open” function.

The gesture control system inside the BUDD-e’s interior is more intuitive than ever before, with the maximum operating distance having been significantly increased.

Cameras are used to register if a passenger in the rear compartment wants to open the sliding door, for instance.

Interactive displays

Interactive displays and projections also assist the driver and passengers during operation. Gestures are recognized without the gesture control system needing to be explicitly activated -- as was the case in the Golf R Touch -- making it an integral part of operating procedures.

Personalized light

5605.jpgVolkswagen has demonstrated how the dominant color of the display illumination and matching ambient lighting can be individually adapted using the touch slider in the Golf R Touch concept.

As of now, this functionality includes opening/start-up and parking/closing of the new BUDD-e.

When the car is opened, cockpit and ambient lighting bring the interior to life: when parked, standby mode is initiated. The ambient lighting system implemented in the BUDD-e is a further development of this system. While the previous application was primarily influenced by the driver and the front-seat passenger, controls now extend to the entire interior of the car. It is the first car in which ambient lighting interacts with the gesture control system, and can also be adjusted to suit the surrounding environment.

A car for the Internet of Things

Not only does the BUDD-e’s completely new infotainment concept make travelling more interactive and media more tangible, but it also creates a link between the car and the outside world.

With BUDD-e, passengers will be able to access their homes and workplaces to perform tasks such as controlling the air conditioning, turning lights on or off, or simply looking to see if their kids are home yet. 

Interactive interface

BUDD-e will not only provide a connection to an interconnected world, but also will create an interactive interface to its surroundings. It is conceivable that in the near future, consumables or other kinds of personal items could not only be ordered from the car as well as being delivered to it using a “Drop Box” , that is accessible from the outside.

The vehicle “reads” an access code to open the Drop Box for authorized parcel delivery services, using a digital key, essentially making the vehicle a mobile mailbox.

At home on the road

5611.jpgMost modern day smart home functions are controlled using smartphone applications, produced by various manufacturers. Volkswagen has found a solution that allows users to access smart home functions, while remaining focused on the road ahead. With App-Connect --Volkswagen’s advanced smartphone integration platform--the BUDD-e makes it possible to control certain “Connected Home” functions from the car, while driving.

In cooperation with Korean electronics firm LG, Volkswagen will show how it is possible to obtain information about a smart fridge from the BUDD-e. It’s also possible to put the whole house into an energy-saving sleep mode while still in the vehicle.

In the future, the BUDD-e will also automatically turn on lights in and around the house as soon as it approaches through home net automation.

 

At CES, Volkswagen will demonstrate, together with the German manufacturer Doorbird, how MirrorLink™ can be used in connection with the newly developed Home-Net Viewer. The interface can display images from cameras mounted in and around the house on one of the car’s multiple screens (a function equally conceivable with future Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ applications). If a visitor rings the doorbell at home, a picture of them, taken by the home camera, is sent to the screen of the infotainment system. The functionality even makes it possible to speak to the visitor using the car’s hands-free kit and, if desired, open the door for them.

Reminder

BUDD-e can remind its users if they have forgotten anything in the car, via their smart watch and/or smartphone.

Through an inventory list, the driver or passengers can see everything that has been put in the car, and if they are still there. The intelligent “Reminder” also informs when particular items should be remembered.

For example, if rain is forecast, BUDD-e will notify the driver if there is an umbrella in the car. Relevant items are fitted with a transmitter (a small sticker) in advance, making it possible for the car to locate them. The “Home-Net don’t forget” application uses an encrypted wireless interface, meaning that it is impossible for the items to be located from outside the car, or by unauthorized users.

Smart Gesture

Volkswagen plans to become one of the first manufacturers to integrate gesture control into affordable, electric vehicles.

 BUDD-e demonstrates a broad range of what is possible in the future. Functionality will include in-car control functions , which operate certain things at home. A good example of this is the familiar “Easy Open” function, where the BUDD-e can use a laser to project a virtual footprint in front of its hatch. If an authorized user kicks this position, the hatch opens automatically. Opening the door at home will work in the same manner: BUDD-e will project a footprint in front of the door and if the person who lives there puts their foot on it, the door opens—it is very handy function, especially when you have your arms full with groceries or children.

Verdict

Volkswagen BUDD-e is a long shot.

Most of Americans quit buying VW vehicles after a huge emissions scandal and it’s very unlikey that Volkswagen will make a hit with its all- new electric van.

However, let’s not forget that there are plenty of people that reminisce legenday Camper and the electric successor of the iconic car will be a fair deal for sure.

Also, production is set begin not sooner than 2018 and by that time most of the pople will forget everything about emissions scandal – how many of us rembember news that happened more than 2 years ago?

Thus, there is a decent chance of mass spread of BUDD-e.

Anyway, let’s not jump on the bandwagon and don’t make any assumptions until production version of the car will be ready.

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