Volkswagen Made an Electric Microbus Conversion

by Jack

In celebration of 20 years of innovations at Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL), Volkswagen has developed a Type 2 electric conversion. With this achievement, the ERL is being renamed to the Innovation and Engineering Center California (IECC). This is the largest Volkswagen research facility outside of their home country, Germany.

“The future of the Volkswagen Group will be defined by our success in developing new technology that is designed to meet our customers’ needs. As we roll out the next generation of electric and autonomous vehicles, innovation will increasingly define who we are.”

The Type 2, also known as the Microbus, is a favorite among Volkswagen fans. The company is even bringing it back as a fully electric vehicle dubbed the I.D. Buzz in the coming years.

This electric microbus conversion is a one-off concept featuring an original 1962 Type 2. You’d imagine that an electric conversion concept would entail a large range, but this vehicle is for display only. The electric Microbus features just a 10 kWh battery pack which is just enough to load and unload off of a trailer. Obviously, given its size, the Microbus could be fitted with a much larger battery if needed. The Type 2 conversion has creatively been dubbed the Type 20.

  • Powertrain & Chassis: The Type 20 features a full BEV drivetrain, including a 10 kWh battery, 2,500-Watt onboard charger, and an electric motor that produces 120 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque. It also features a custom-designed active pneumatic suspension developed with Porsche that adjusts the vehicle’s ride height via software. This allows the Type 20 to actually rise as the driver approaches.
  • Biometric Identification: Experimenting with biometric vehicle access, the Type 20 includes a real-time facial recognition system integrated with the digital assistant to enroll and identify users. The system leverages a 720p wide-angle camera integrated into the driver’s-side second window. The recognition is done via the Sensory SDK, running in real-time on an Nvidia Jetson TX2 prototyping package.
  • Conversational Digital Assistant: The Type 20 integrates directional microphones into three zones of the vehicle – the front exterior, driver cockpit and rear passenger zone. An intelligent speech agent builds on the existing speech capabilities of the Group and can receive more natural language commands. The system provides LED feedback to exterior commands via the headlights and iconic Volkswagen logo.
  • Generative Design: Working with Autodesk, Volkswagen designers created custom wheels, rearview-mirror supports, and interior support elements using generative design – a process focused on maximizing strength while minimizing weight, which mimics natural evolution to create organic shapes.
  • Holographic Infotainment System: A Looking Glass II holographic display is integrated into the Type 20’s dashboard, generating 3D images without the need for specialized glasses.
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