In Depth

Volkswagen unveils self-driving ID Buzz concept

Multipurpose microbus that may be first fully autonomous car under new Moia brand debuts at Detroit Motor Show

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Volkswagen has taken the wraps off its self-driving all-electric concept, the ID Buzz microbus, at the Detroit Motor Show. 

Taking clear inspiration from the company's iconic microbus of the 1950s, the car features an eight-seat configuration and two luggage compartments. It is thought it could be used for VW's Moia car-sharing brand, which launches in 2020. 

It is driven by two electric motors positioned on the front and rear axle, simultaneously delivering 364bhp to all-four wheels. Powering the two motors is a floor-mounted 111kWh battery that can achieve an 80 per cent charge in around 30 minutes and has a range of approximately 270 miles. 

This fully electric configuration, with the motors and battery positioned under the floor, allows the ID Buzz to maximise interior space for its eight occupants. The seats are fixed to a floor-mounted rail system and can be positioned to create an area similar to a "living space" or "lounge", the firm says. 

There's also a host of driverless features, such as the fully autonomous ID pilot mode, with sensors, radars and cameras distributed over the car's bodywork. Going driverless sees the steering wheel retract into the dashboard and merge with the instrument panel, where occupants can monitor the car's systems through an augmented reality head-up display.

Autocar says the ID Buzz still needs to be "signed off by VW's board" to enter production, but the company's management is "fully behind the concept". 

Volkswagen to unveil electric ID concept in Detroit

22 December

Volkswagen has released teaser shots of its multipurpose ID concept car ahead of its official debut at the Detroit Motor Show next month. 

Based on the company's modular electric drive platform, the show car appears to incorporate a similar style to its iconic camper vans of the 1950s and 60s, suggesting it could be a microbus equivalent to the ID hatchback. 

VW says the concept will be able to drive "fully autonomously" in the future, with an electronically retractable steering wheel offering more room for the occupants when the driverless functions are enabled. Inbuilt laser scanners, ultrasonic radar and cameras monitor surrounding cars and the outside world, allowing the driver to "relax".

However, autonomous technology still requires drivers to maintain a certain level of awareness. Tesla models, for example, trigger a series of alarms when the steering wheel has not been touched for a long period of time and the system will switch off entirely if the alarms are ignored.

Auto Express reports VW will test autonomous vehicles under the Moia brand in different cities across the globe "over the next few years", but it's unlikely a production version will be ready "until after 2020". 

VW announced its self-driving service earlier this month and expects to make a "substantial share of its sales revenue" by 2025. In addition, Moia's business model will include an on-demand car-pool app, with the ambition of bridging the gap between private and public transport.

VW launches Moia on-demand ride service

6 December

Volkswagen has launched its new Moia start-up company, a stand-alone brand aiming to promote car sharing and ride-hailing in busy city centres. 

The service will be based in Berlin, with a team of 50 offering self-driving electric shuttles that can be hailed via smartphone, before spreading out across Germany and Europe. Auto Express reports Moia will use "purpose built" vehicles, which are expected to debut late next year. 

VW also plans on becoming an industry leader in mobility services by fielding a fleet of "over a million app-summoned autonomous electric vehicles", the magazine adds. The group expects a "substantial share of its sales revenue" to come from the service by 2025.

In addition, Moia's business model will include an on-demand car-pool app, with the ambition of bridging the gap between private and public transport.

VW has already laid down the infrastructure for car-hailing after "making a $300m (£236m) investment in Gett", a global on-demand taxi service that operates in over 100 cities, reports Autocar

VW's Budd-e SUV concept, which debuted earlier this year, could offer an insight into what these dedicated vehicles could look like. The show car features a narrow track, long wheelbase and side sliding doors - all practical solutions for the busy city streets of Europe. 

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