Volkswagen shows the future of electric commercial vans
Volkswagen have released and a number of new electrics at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hannover, Germany, including a commercial version of its popular I.D. Buzz electric Kombi Van. The I.D. Buzz Cargo concept is basically a mobile workshop with integrated laptops with level 4 autonomy, automated inventory and an impressive 550km (342 mile) range.
It started out as an electric throwback to the hippie 60s, but it seems as though the I.D. Buzz Cargo concept is a future model of the light commercial van, and it could hit the market as early as 2021.
It will feature a new solar roof, which will make up to 15km (9.3miles) of your driving each day completely green and economical. It will also be slightly larger than the people-carrying version, with wide opening rear doors and a side sliding doors.
In the cockpit, it’s got three front row seats, with the middle seat that can fold down to reveal a small workplace integrated with a laptop. There is virtually no dashboard as everything projected to the driver, will be in a 3D augmented reality heads-up display, and infotainment will be controlled through a removable tablet.
As it’s a level 4 autonomous vehicle, you can either drive it or the option is there to be driven. You will be able to push the steering wheel back into the dashboard which will cause the car to take over and drive for you. At that point, the driver’s seat can be rotated 15 degrees and you will be able to get on the work on your laptop, taking advantage of the van’s mobile connectivity.
In the back of the van, things get even more exciting. Working closely with German in-vehicle equipment specialists Sortimo, Volkswagen has kitted out the rear of the Cargo with highly intelligent shelving system, which is capable of part stock levels and communicating with an enterprise resource planning or procurement system to ensure drivers and technicians have to correct equipment for the jobs they have scheduled for that day.
It even features a pick-by-light feature that selectively lights up areas of the van you need when doing a job. On an even higher level of technology, the shelving system can track how long each step of the job is taking by registering when tools are taken out and put back in.
As it is a commercial vehicle, it is not a performance monster, but it will still get around with plenty of zip thanks to its single-speed 160kW (215hp) rear-wheel drive motor. Although, the I.D. Buzz carrier is all-wheel drive, so the platform is certainly capable of supporting an AWD Cargo in the future.
The underfloor battery pack ranges from 48 to 111 kWh, representing charge ranges of 330 to 500 km (205-342 miles). It can be fast charged at rates up to 150kW where infrastructure is available, which would bring the biggest 111 kWh battery pack from 0 to 80 percent in around half an hour. Of course, most of the charging is going to happen back at the depot overnight, where the Cargo can simply sit on an inductive charging plate and take in energy at a more relaxed 11kW rate overnight, enjoying off-peak energy prices.
Volkswagen says the I.D. Buzz Cargo is “a glimpse into the middle of the decade,” but also that is could get this futuristic commercial vehicle onto the market as early as 2021. Presumably the autonomous driving tech is the only real stumbling block at this stage.
Other Electrics presented at IAA Hannover
While the I.D. Buzz Cargo represents the medium term future of Volkswagens light commercial vehicles, the company is also rolling out three other choices that are even closer to the production line. Here they are, in brief:
The ABT e-Transporter
Volkswagen will eventually electrify the current Transporter T6, and the ABT e-Transporter is a glimpse of what that could possibly look like. Based on the long-wheelbase version of the T6, it will be equipped with either 37.3 or 74.6 kH of battery, which will represent 208 or 400 km of range (129 or 249 miles).
The 2019 ABT e-Caddy
Said to be on the road in mid-2019 and based on thee Caddy Maxi, the e-Caddy is spacious, electric maxi-taxi seating up to five people plus luggage. It runs a reasonable 82 kW (110hp), single speed, front wheel drive motor with a 37.3 kWh battery that’s good for 220 km (137miles) of range. It will also charge at 40 kW, meaning it’ll take around 49 minutes to reach 80% capacity.
This one is a bit of an eyebrow raiser for us. While the e-Caddy range might cover the average eight-hour shift for a drive, many taxis run round the clock with a number of drivers sharing the car to get the most out of it. The e-Caddy’s relatively low range and slow charging times will mean it may cost slightly more.
Last mile deliveries will be handled in the ‘very near future’ by this 250 watt, euro compliant e-trike. Ridable without any kind of licence, the Cargo e-Bike can carry up to 210kg (463 lb) including its rider, with an innovative tilt-stabilised font platform to carry a decent amount of boxes.
Range is up to 100 km (62 miles) from a 48 volt, 500 Wh battery, and Volkswagen says it’s as easy to ride as any bicycle. A production area has been set aside at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ manufacturing plant in Hannover, and the Cargo e-Bike will see production very shortly.