As It Spreads Its Platform Pitch, Volkswagen Has a Buggy It Wants You to Think About

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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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  • TheBrandler TheBrandler on Feb 01, 2019

    I would just like to say to all the manufacturers out there that I absolutely abhor your concept cars. Why? Because they have no bearing on reality, practicality, usability, functionality, or manufacturability. They are wasted eye candy that does nothing more than litter car show floors with expensive over styled junk and flood the internet with pictures of things that not only will never exist, but won't look anything like what real products the company will make. Why don't you take all those millions wasted on building this thing, and all those thousands of design hours, and apply it to actually making better vehicles.

  • NeilM NeilM on Feb 01, 2019

    Buggy — like VW's diesel ECU software?

  • FreedMike I'll welcome as many cars like this as I can, but I think Acura's "right move" was to put the Accord Sport's 2.0T in the base model and sell it for thirty-five or so. That's a pretty compelling performance / value proposition.
  • Wjtinfwb I'll certainly admit to a bit of nostalgia that drives my appreciation for these 70's yachts, but there's more to it than that. It was an era that the Big 3 ruled the luxury market with the German's and British nothing but a beer fart in the marketplace. That changed drastically as the early '80s crept in but in 1977, a Mark V or Seville was where it was at. No rose colored glasses, they were not great cars, what they were was a great living room that you could ride to the office in. I grew up on a diet of Cadillac's, Lincoln and one big Chrysler before dad made the move to a 280SE in about '77. Impeccably built and very road worthy, dad initially didn't like the firm seats, clunky automatic transmission and very weak A/C. The exorbitant maintenance costs didn't help. But he enjoyed the driving characteristics enough to get another Benz, then a 733i, an Audi 5000S and a Jag XJ6. Compare these to today's Cadillac's (non- V) and Lincoln's that with the exception of the Escalade and Navigator, are boring and probably even more pedestrian than the Eldorado, Seville and Mark's were.
  • FreedMike I was lucky enough to grow up in a household with the two best German luxury sedans of the time - a manual '81 733i, and a '75 Mercedes 450SE. The BMW was a joy on back roads, and the Benz was a superb highway car. Good times. And both were dramatically better than the junkheap American luxury cars Dad had before.
  • Wjtinfwb A Celebrity Diesel... that is a unicorn. Those early A-bodies were much maligned and I'm sure the diesel didn't help that, but they developed into very decent and reliable transportation. Hopefully this oil-burner Chevy can do the same, it's worth keeping.
  • Wjtinfwb After S-classes crested the 40k mark in the early '80s, my dad moved from M-B to a BMW 733i Automatic. Anthracite gray over red leather, it was a spectacular driving car and insanely comfortable and reassuring on long interstate hauls. My mom, not really a car person, used the BMW to shuttle her elderly Mom back home to Pennsylvania from Miami. Mom and grandma both gushed with praise for the big BMW, stating she could have driven straight through the car was so comfortable and confidence inspiring. A truly great car that improved through the E38 generation, at which point the drugs apparently took hold of BMW styling and engineering and they went completely off the rails. The newest 7 series is a 100k abomination.