Microbus-inspired concept comes with new multimedia interface
The Volkswagen BUDD-E Concept, an electrified van that showcases a new platform and a next-generation multimedia interface, debuts at CES. Featuring two electric motors and a flat 101-kW-hr battery, the BUDD-e rides on Volkswagen’s new MEB platform, designed specifically for electric vehicles. The BUDD-e can travel up to 373 miles (600 km) on a single charge, though that figure is based on the New European Driving Cycle (EPA numbers may be closer to about 230 miles (370 km), VW says). If you run out of electricity, it can be charged to 80 percent in 15 minutes, Volkswagen says. Wired and inductive wireless charging are compatible with the BUDD-e.
The BUDD-e’s exterior design was inspired by the classic Microbuses, which were produced for two generations from the 1950s through the 1970s. Like the van that inspired its design, the BUDD-e puts practicality first and features a clean, restrained exterior. The car also has an upright greenhouse for maximum interior space, just like the Microbuses of the past. LED lights are used for the main headlights and the accent lighting for the grille. Out back, the taillights also feature LEDs, including a strip that runs up to the roof all the way across and down to the other light cluster. To make the BUDD-e more eye-catching, Volkswagen has given the concept a two-tone paint job with the body in white and the roof in copper. A floating roof design is also evident thanks to the pillars painted black to blend in with the car’s windows.
One of the most notable features on the BUDD-e concept is its next-generation multimedia system, which features a curved 12.3-inch display with three configurable sections. The Active Info Display is the main component of the BUDD-e’s infotainment system and can be customized extensively. Controls for the new interface can be made using the touchscreen, gestures, and voice. Volkswagen says that the phrase “Hello, BUDD-e” will activate the car’s voice control, which responds to natural speech interaction, eliminating the need to learn specific commands. Passengers can also give the car commands.
The BUDD-e’s Active Info Display has three main sections: Drive, Control, and Consume. Drive tracks your current route and brings up a 3-D map with buildings, points of interest, and navigation instructions. Control shows the vehicle’s status, assistance information, and current trip data on the trip computer. Consume has all the infotainment content, including audio, weather, messages, and a calendar. A Travel mode augments the Drive section of the Active Info Display by showing route information on the main 13.3-inch head unit, allowing passengers to add and plan new routes.
Controls for the main head unit are similar to a smartphone with a menu tab at the top of the screen for easy access to key functions such as opening and closing the sliding door or the hatch. Sensors are also used in the BUDD-e’s main head unit to detect approaching hands so it can smoothly transition from display to operating modes. The main head unit can be arranged by using up to eight tiles that contain different types of information. Side mirrors have been ditched in favor of two external cameras that show what’s in your blind spots via the multifunction display. A new steering wheel with touch-sensitive controls uses haptic feedback to signal to the driver that a feature or menu has been activated. Additional controls include a touch slider for volume and zooming in and out in the navigation system.
Gesture controls are taken to another level in the BUDD-e, which is capable of detecting approaching people via infrared sensors. You can also open and close the car’s sliding door can using gesture control. Inside the BUDD-e’s cabin, gesture controls have been enhanced to allow for operation of the car’s interface at a greater distance. Cameras are used to detect if a passenger wants to do things such as open the sliding door. The BUDD-e’s ambient lighting also interacts with the car’s gesture control system, so the car’s interior lights will illuminate and adjust to the environment.
Connectivity is another highlight in the BUDD-e; the car’s infotainment system will allow you and your passengers to link with the outside world when you’re on the road. Using Wi-Fi connectivity, the BUDD-e’s passengers can access their smart homes to turn on the air-conditioning, check to see if anyone’s in the house, put the house in energy-saver mode, and turn the lights on or off. Should you need to get something for your car or other personal items, the BUDD-e will also let you order online and have it delivered to your car’s drop box, which can be accessed from the outside via an access code the car reads out.
Volkswagen will also showcase how Mirror Link can be used in connection with the Home-Net Viewer to display images taken by cameras mounted around a house. The system allows the owner of the house to speak to a person at the door when they’re driving and even open the door for them. Another notable feature on the BUDD-e is the “Home-Net don’t forget” feature that uses an inventory list to track what’s been left in the car.
Although it’s unlikely that the BUDD-e will make it to production, the features it showcases at CES will most likely find their way into future production vehicles.