BUDD-e showcases VW’s electric future

DB2015AU01198Volkswagen is opening a gateway to the future – 2019 to be precise – at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. The time machine: a zero-emission vehicle – the avant-garde BUDD-e minivan, the first model based on an equally new and progressive Volkswagen technology matrix for electric vehicles. The van’s range: up to 233 miles (USA/FTP 72) or 331 miles (Europe/NEDC). In parallel to this, the time it takes to charge the batteries should have been cut to about 15 minutes (80 per cent capacity) by then.

Technologies include Volkswagen’s new conceptual matrix for electric vehicles: the Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB).

BUDD-e – The debut of a new generation of zero-emission Volkswagen cars

With the BUDD-e Volkswagen has developed a minivan that is more thoroughly networked with its surroundings, as part of the Internet, than any car before – the most communicative car of its time. Many of this Volkswagen’s features are different. It is the first concept car developed by the Volkswagen Group to be designed on the basis of the new Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB). This architecture heralds a fundamental change in electric cars and thus for the car in general, because the MEB throws all fossil fuel ballast of the present overboard, having been designed specifically for electric cars. And this means that the body design, the interior design, the package and the drive characteristics of the electrically powered Volkswagen will change significantly.

The MEB results in a drivetrain architecture that is specifically tailored to the use of compact electric motors and high-performance batteries. The flat and space-saving battery with an energy content of 92.4 kWh is integrated into almost the entire vehicle floor of the BUDD-e. It powers two electric motors, which drive both of the axles.

The battery can either be charged by plugging it into a power socket or by inductive charging. At a charging power of 150 kW (DC), the battery is 80 percent charged after about 30 minutes. The concept car’s all-wheel-drive system gives the BUDD-e a top speed of 112 mph, and it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.9 seconds.

BUDD-e – Next generation human-machine interface

The traditional distinction between the electronic instrument cluster in front of the driver and the screen of the infotainment system in the centre console is dissolving in the interface design of the BUDD-e. Heading towards comprehensive digitisation and individualisation of the driver’s workplace to become a large panel, these two areas are merging to form a single information hub. This is accomplished using two physically separate displays, which blend into one visually and functionally. The BUDD-e’s user-programmable instrument cluster is an evolution of the Active Info Display that was first launched by Volkswagen in 2015. Centrally positioned, right in front of the driver is a 12.3-inch curved display with a surface consisting of three individually configurable sections.

Functions such as volume control can alternatively be controlled using the new touch slider. This is a further advancement of the system presented at CES 2015 in the Golf R Touch. The new stage of development is characterised by higher sensor resolution, which is clearly noticeable for drivers and front-seat passenger alike due to the system’s optimised precision and performance. Volkswagen has also significantly enhanced the gesture control system presented in the Golf R Touch at last year’s CES.

BUDD-e – The car in the Internet of Things

Not only does the BUDD-e’s completely new infotainment concept make traveling more interactive and media more tangible, it also creates a link between the car and the world of its users. But there’s more – BUDD-e itself becomes part of the Internet and becomes a key to digitised realms of service and infotainment: people will be able to access their homes and workplaces from cars like this Volkswagen and control the air conditioning system, turn the lights on or off, or simply take a look online to see if the kids are home yet.

At present, smart home functions are controlled using smartphone apps produced by the respective manufacturers. With App Connect – Volkswagen’s interface for all Apple and Android smartphones – the BUDD-e makes it possible to control certain Connected Home functions from the car while driving. At the CES, Volkswagen, in cooperation with the Korean electronics company LG, will show how it is possible to check what is in the fridge from the BUDD-e concept car, for example.

In parallel to CarPlay (Apple) and Android Auto (Google), MirrorLink is (for Android phones) a central interface for using smartphone apps in the car. All three of these apps are mirrored in the infotainment system with the Volkswagen-compatible smartphone apps. Volkswagen has bundled these apps in the smartphone integration package App Connect available for various models since 2015.

Autonomous traveling 2019

The option of the BUDD-e driving autonomously is also implemented. The Volkswagen Group is among the pioneers of autonomous driving. Back in 2005 Volkswagen won the “Grand Challenge” – a race covering a distance of 136,7 miles (220 km) for autonomous cars – with the Touareg luxury SUV in the USA. The prototype, christened “Stanley”, was developed by the Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) in Palo Alto, California in cooperation with Stanford University. By around the end of this decade the functions of the assistance systems such as those in the Audi A7 piloted driving concept and the e-Golf Perfect Parking research vehicles and the systems already available from Volkswagen, for instance in the Passat and Golf, could merge and make fully automated driving an everyday reality.

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