As It Spreads Its Platform Pitch, Volkswagen Has a Buggy It Wants You to Think About
After Volkswagen strategy boss Michael Jost told a German newspaper Wednesday of his company’s plan to offer up its MEB electric vehicle platform to anyone who wants it, VW further disseminated the message on Thursday — making the pitch that the automaker now offers “e-joint ventures.”
Cute, but also potentially lucrative for automakers not interested in developing their own EV architecture. Or not able. Meanwhile, as a hint at what the MEB platform is capable of, Volkswagen issued a teaser for a culture-soaked model with a modern twist: an electric dune buggy, also riding atop an MEB.
The electric buggy will appear as a concept vehicle at March’s Geneva Motor Show, though the possibility of a production model remains a big question mark.
“A buggy is more than a car,” Klaus Bischoff, VW’s head designer, said in a statement. “It is vibrancy and energy on four wheels. These attributes are embodied by the new e-buggy, which demonstrates how a modern, non-retro interpretation of a classic can look and, more than anything else, the emotional bond that electric mobility can create.”
Original buggies borrowed their underpinnings and powertrain from the original VW Beetle, providing rambunctious young people with a lightweight, traction-heavy terrormobile with which to harass beachgoers in the ’60s and ’70s.
“The new MEB concept vehicle shows that this fully electric platform can be used for more than just large-scale series production models,” the company stated. “Like the Beetle chassis of yesteryear, the modular electric drive matrix has the potential to facilitate the development of low-volume niche series.”
Perhaps other automakers feel a stirring of inspiration upon gazing at the resurrected buggy. If so, VW would like a word. The automaker splashed Jost’s interview across its website Thursday, emphasizing its openness to “electric cooperation” and boasting of its platform being the industry forerunner “in terms of costs and scalability.”
Go figure that the buggy teaser showed up one day before Jost made his remarks…
VW is already in “advanced” talks with several automakers, Jost said, “particularly in the volume segment.” One of those automakers is a costs-obsessed Ford, which cemented its alliance with the German automaker earlier this month. The others are anyone’s guess.
Production of the first MEB vehicle, the compact I.D., hatch begins in Europe before the end of the year, with numerous models following shortly thereafter. Larger models will make their way to VW’s American assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. By 2025, the company anticipates the existence of 15 million MEB vehicles scattered across several badges.
[Images: Volkswagen AG]
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