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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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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]

Steph Willems
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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?

  • Tassos Unlike Tim, I don't use this space as a wastebasket for ANYTHING BUT a proper used car.If you seriously need a car AND you are as destitute as Tim's finds imply, HERE IS A PROPER ONE FOR YOUR NEEDS:You can probably get it for only $4k, WITH Leather, Factory Navigation, plenty of room and a V6. even considered getting it myself as an extra reliable car.
  • Jeff Of all the EV trucks I like the Rivian the best but I am still years away if ever from buying an EV.
  • Kwik_Shift I definitely like the looks of the newest 300s over the Chargers.
  • SCE to AUX "Should car companies shack up with tech giants in order to produce legible infotainment systems and the like? Or should they go it alone?"Great question(s).The River Rouge days are gone, where Ford produced whole cars out of raw materials entering the plant at the other end. Nearly everything is outsourced these days - sometimes well, sometimes disastrously.But the problem with infotainment systems is that they are integrated with the car's operation. VW has delayed entire products for issues with infotainment.For me, the question boils down to a contractual arrangement - who owns and maintains the code forever? Since more and more of the car's function is tied to the infotainment system, I'd argue that the car mfr needs to own it - especially the larger ones.Do mfrs really want to share intellectual property with Huawei just to fast-track some code they've managed themselves in the past?
  • Kwi65728132 I always did like the styling of the 300C and it was on my short list for a new (to me) rear wheel drive, naturally aspirated V8 luxury sedan but I found a Hyundai Equus that was better optioned than any 300C I could find and for several grand less.