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Volks hoping BUDD-e electric van will light up sagging fortunes

BELEAGURED Volkswagen has unveiled its battery-electric BUDD-e van at the ongoing CES in Las Vegas.

The company whose future is clouded by legal action around the world over allegations of beating emissions testing on some of its diesel engines, is hoping the BUDD-e will regain some goodwill from the car-buying public.

Equipped with a 101 kWh battery pack supporting a range of up to 600 km on the NEDC, the BUDD-e concept is the first vehicle based on Volkswagen’s new Modular Electric Platform (MEB) designed specifically for plug-in vehicles. BUDD-e exemplifies what Volkswagen considers as potentially representative of electric mobility offerings in the 2019 timeframe.

With the BUDD-e, Volkswagen has also developed a vehicle that is more thoroughly connected with its surroundings than any car before it. An integral automotive component in the Internet of Things (IoT), BUDD-e is capable of seamlessly communicating with the smart home or office.

Volkswagen’s new MEB platform is designed to enable a series production car to have pure electric range that is on par with today’s gasoline-powered cars by the end of the decade. The time required to charge the batteries to 80% of capacity is anticipated to be reduced to about 15 minutes by then, marking an operational breakthrough for EVs.

The new Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB) is designed to have the space for electric drive components and large batteries while maintaining interior space and driving dynamics.

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MEB will allow for spacious interiors with the smallest possible footprint to enable easy and nimble transportation. In addition to their space, MEB vehicles will offer high levels of functionality and networking as a result of the new vehicle architecture, instrumentation, and operating systems. New and enhanced assistance systems will provide passengers with safer transport.

The front and rear motors power all four wheels and enable a top speed of 150 km/h. The total range of up to 600km is achieved on a full charge. Like today’s electric vehicles, the BUDDE-e offers several levels of plugged-in charging with the added benefit of cordless inductive charging.

All of BUDD-e’s systems are operated intuitively by gesture control, touchscreen (displays and touch slider) or voice control. The driver can choose between various intuitive control modes (multi-modal interaction). For example, a simple “Hello BUDD-e” activates the vehicle’s voice control.

The system also offers completely natural speech interaction. For example, if the driver asks “turn the heat up a bit, please”, the car will respond immediately and appropriately. The system is also able to locate the passenger giving the commands, and react accordingly. If, for instance, someone sitting in the left rear seat says “It’s too hot here”, BUDD-e can immediately lower the temperature in that passenger’s zone.

Volkswagen plans to become one of the first manufacturers to integrate gesture control into affordable, mass production cars. BUDD-e demonstrates a broad range of what is possible in the future. Functionality will include in-car control functions which operate certain things at home. A good example of this is the familiar “Easy Open” function, where the BUDD-e can use a laser to project a virtual footprint in front of its hatch. If an authorized user kicks this position, the hatch opens automatically. Opening the door at home will work in the same manner: BUDD-e will project a footprint in front of the door and if the person who lives there puts their foot on it, the door opens—handy if one has arms full with groceries or children.

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