Volkswagen is celebrating 20 years of innovation in California with a cool concept van that has weirdly organic-looking wheels.
In the heart of Silicon Valley, Volkswagen has a team of innovators and engineers hard at work on whatever the next big thing in automobiles will be. Lately, that mostly means automation and electric powertrains, which are two things that VW’s latest concept showcases quite well.
It’s called the Type 20 Concept Vehicle, and it is basically an electric Microbus that showcases the latest and greatest in VW technology. It was built by VW’s Innovation and Engineering Center California (IECC) and uses a 1962 Type 2 11-window Microbus as its starting point.
Originally, the VW Microbus had a 1.5-L gas engine producing about 42 horsepower. The Type 20 has nearly 3-times as much power thanks to an electric motor pumping out 120 hp and 173 lb-ft of torque. Onboard is a 10 kWh battery along with a 2,500W “onboard charger”, which likely means a gas turbine of some sort.
Along with an entirely electric powertrain, the Type 20 concept also sports an active pneumatic suspension that can adjust vehicle ride height on the fly from the center console as well as a biometric facial scanner to serve as the van’s “on” switch. There’s also a conversational digital assistant that accepts natural voice commands from its occupants.
All the orange stuff you see on the side mirrors, wheels, and steering wheel are made by 3D printers using organic shapes to provide maximum strength while using minimal materials. It looks weird, but these shapes are far stronger than if they were made by conventional manufacturing processes.
Also, the infotainment is an integrated holographic display in the center dash. No 3D glasses required.
VW says the IECC will now focus on certain “lighthouse projects”, including “connected car, intelligent cockpit, and autonomous driving and parking development."