VW Kombi concept promotes back-seat driver

By: SPencer Leech, Unique Cars magazine

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Volkswagen’s new electric Kombi concept car enables control panel to be handed to passengers

VW Kombi concept promotes back-seat driver
Any relation to the Kombi is distant, though the intended purpose is similar.

This is not the first time Volkswagen has teased us with a Kombi-resurrecting concept car; in fact it’s the fourth time in the last 15 years; but this one is probably the most significant.

It’s called the I.D. Buzz; an all-electric and all-wheel-drive minibus that was shown-off at the Detroit Auto Show recently. While its styling clearly harks back to the much-loved Volkswagen Kombi, that’s about where the similarities end.

At the press of a button, the steering wheel (if you can call it that) retracts into the dash and the I.D. Buzz switches to I.D. Pilot mode, which Volkswagen says will be an active feature by 2025. The minibus uses radars, ultrasonic sensors, cameras and lasers to navigate the terrain completely autonomously.  

The primary dash is a large touchscreen tablet that mounts on the front console, but can be taken off and handed about the cabin, allowing people in the back seats to control the car’s various functions.

Fortunately, it can be driven manually; in fact it’s powered by a massive 111 kilowatt-hour battery and all-wheel-drive electric motors that are said to produce 275kW of power, so it’d probably thump around at a reasonable pace. It’s estimated to have a range of about 600 kilometres and it’ll charge to 80 per cent within 30 minutes on a 150kW charging system.

The seats fold down to take cargo, but in their upright position can fit up to six passengers. In self-drive mode, the driver can spin around to create a moving lounge room experience.

We doubt that anything like the I.D. Buzz is ready for production, but it goes to show how serious Volkswagen is about electric vehicles right now. The German brand plans to go ‘all-in’ on EVs by 2020, with a whole new autonomous platform already on the drawing board.

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