Volkswagen concept looks to past, future

Volkswagen concept looks to past, future
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Volkswagen unveiled a concept for a revived VW microbus, this time in an all-electric and autonomous version.

The original VW microbus of the 1960s has been an iconic fixture in automotive culture. Over the decades, Volkswagen has shown off several concepts of a return to the microbus layout. However, none ever made it to production. VW says even the name BUZZ is a play on the word “bus.”

The company late Sunday introduced the latest concept version, the I.D. Buzz, which, as a concept car, has a fully electric power train, a retractable steering wheel and full autonomous capability.

From a packaging perspective, a small van like VW’s I.D. Buzz and the Chrysler Portal, which was shown last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, make sense. Having essentially a small room as the interior of your autonomous vehicle opens the space for different seating and storage options.

That space can be configured however you want it in the I.D. Buzz. When the van is in its autonomous mode, the front seats can swivel around and face the back.

Powering the van are two electric motors, one for the front wheels and one for the rear wheels. Together, they crank out 369 horsepower. VW leaders said the little van should be able to go 270 miles on a full charge, and accelerate to 60 mph in about 5 seconds.

For now, the I.D. Buzz is just a concept, but more car makers are touting the benefits of a small electric fully autonomous van as the transportation of the future.