Cargo vans look to be the next big opportunity for electrification, as they can save a lot of pollution with all the time and mileage the spend on the road.
At the LA auto show, VW updated its I.D. Buzz cargo van concept into the ultimate delivery or contractor van, with a high-powered electrical outlet, solar power, and at least conceptually a full-self-driving system.
First shown in Germany in September, the I.D. Buzz cargo van concept is based on the passenger version of the electric I.D. Buzz microbus, an updated concept of Volkswagen's classic bus.
During the Bus's heyday in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, VW sold many as workhorse panel vans, so why not make a cargo van out of the new electric version?
The new I.D. Buzz cargo van concept updated for the LA Show adds up to 9.3 miles of renewable electric driving from solar panels mounted on the roof. Volkswagen claims it will have 340 miles of plug-in range on the new European WLTP driving cycle, which is likely to translate to something significantly less in U.S. EPA testing—perhaps 260 to 280 miles.
It has a 230-volt power outlet in the cargo area to run even the biggest power tools and provide backup power.
Like the I.D. Buzz passenger bus, the I.D. Buzz cargo van is based on VW's new MEB electric-vehicle architecture, which the company has said will form the basis of at least 10 million electric cars between 2019 and 2030. (Reports that the company plans as many as 50 million electric cars could include other platforms.)
With the I.D. Buzz Cargo van concept, Volkswagen is also introducing a new I.D. Pilot self-driving system, which includes an augmented-reality head-up display, and a laptop workstation in the drivers' seat. Under normal conditions, the cargo Buzz has a steering wheel and normal controls, along with the augmented-reality display. To activate the self-driving system, the driver pulls on the steering wheel for several seconds, and it then retracts into the dashboard.
The cargo Buzz will be the first VW van in decades with a bench seat in front. With the self-driving system engaged, the driver's portion of the bench will angle 15 degrees to the right to leave the driver facing the miniature laptop desk in what Volkswagen says is an ideal ergonomic position to work. The augmented-reality windshield helps to alert the driver if he needs to retake control.
VW painted the latest concept as a support vehicle for the its electric I.D. R race car that set the record at the Pike's Peak hill-climb in June.
Volkswagen says the I.D. Buzz cargo van will go on sale in 2022, roughly at the same time as the standard I.D. Buzz.