UPDATE: Volkswagen says the range is 233 miles on the EPA cycle, 373 miles on the New European Driving Cycle.
Volkswagen unleashed its futuristic Microbus concept car in Las Vegas on Tuesday, complete with expressive face, connectedness to the “Internet of Things,” and gesture control everywhere, but only its bare bones are rooted in any real future for the automaker.
The 2016 Microbus, which is “dubbed BUDD-e,” is the latest and perhaps most significant iteration of the Microbus because of its timing. This week, the U.S. Justice Department announced it filed a $40 billion lawsuit against the automaker for cheating emissions tests.
In Las Vegas, Volkswagen showed off its modular electric powertrain architecture underpinning the Microbus that’ll almost certainly make it to production in one, or several cars — just probably not this one.
According to Volkswagen, the modular electric powerplant — which it calls “MEB” — can power the bus up to 233 miles and be charged to 80 percent capacity in 15 minutes. The automaker didn’t specify what kind of charger is needed to cram that many electrons into BUDD-e’s 101 kWh, flat-battery pack, so we’ll just infer they mean Porsche’s 800-volt hypercharger.
All four wheels are driven by two different electric motors, and Volkswagen claims BUDD-e can achieve a velocity of 93 mph.
There are sign-of-the-times touches, such as gesture controls for driver and passenger, Internet-enabled everything and swank-lounge seating, but Volkswagen clearly has its eyes on what you can’t see.