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Volkswagen has now built the perfect vehicle for the unrepentant deadhead. If you ever attended a Grateful Dead concert, as I did in my youth, you would have seen probably the largest traveling collection of vintage VW micro-buses anywhere. They came in all colors and conditions, all populated by people who believed in the hippie ethos. The buses in those stadium parking lots also almost inevitably had smoke pouring out them, sometimes even from the exhaust.

If Jerry Garcia were still with us today, and the Dead were still on tour, this Chameleon would be able to at least eliminate the exhaust smoke. The Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory in Palo Alto, CA has teamed up with Hybrid Technologies to update an original 1964 Type 2 micro-bus, long a favorite of California surfers. This is kind with the split wind shield, and extra rows of small windows along the edges of the roof. The original drive train has been replaced by a fully electric drive-train powered by lithium polymer batteries. Nicknamed the Chameleon, the bus gets extra power from the solar cells that cover the roof mounted surf boards. The interior is updated with the latest electronics for navigation, entertainment and communications. They are using the vehicle as a public relations tool to showcase all the latest electronics. Chameleon has been shown to VW management and engineers in Germany this summer and it is making its North American debut Friday. September, 22 at the AltWheels event in Boston, MA. Hybrid Technologies also built the electric PT Cruiser taxi that is being proposed for New York City. Jerry would be proud!

(Full press release after the jump)

[Source: Volkswagen]

VOLKSWAGEN ELECTRONICS RESEARCH LABORATORY DISPLAYS FUTURISTIC TECHNOLOGY IN A FAMILIAR AND NOSTALGIC PACKAGE


PALO ALTO
, Calif.-Volkswagen of America, Inc. is introducing an exciting new concept vehicle from its Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL), located in Palo Alto, California. The ERL has taken a 1964 Deluxe Microbus and retrofitted it with a collection of cutting edge technologies. Dubbed the "Chameleon", this renovated bus contains projects developed by ERL engineers and external partners that explore novel design concepts for tomorrow's cars.

With the goal of preserving the classic look of the Microbus, the theme of the concept vehicle is "Hidden Technologies." This goal is appropriately parallel to Volkswagen's continuous mission to develop technologies that enhance the driving experience while limiting driver distraction. The large size and unique layout of the Microbus provides a tremendous platform to creatively integrate many different technologies. A multitude of projects are showcased in the Chameleon, representing the latest advancements in the topics of audio, speech, sensors, displays, navigation, lighting, batteries, solar cells and much more.

In addition to being a cultural icon, the Deluxe Microbus carries a uniquely Californian flavor. With its 21 windows and soft-top canvas roof, the vehicle was a favorite of surfers and adventurers on the West Coast, and is considered a prized collector's item today. Acknowledging California's traditionally environmentally friendly attitude, the ERL collaborated with Hybrid Technologies (www.hybridtechnologies.com) to replace the original VW engine with an all electric drive engine powered by lithium polymer batteries. Surfboards mounted on the roof are also lined with flexible solar panels that provide an additional source of energy to this 100% electric vehicle.

The interior of the bus is full of surprises, with an interactive digital instrument cluster, imbedded capacitive touch-pads, digitally enhanced sound quality, exciting rear seat entertainment options, and speech activated controls available throughout the cabin. The exterior houses several exciting new approaches for keyless entry, LED lighting, wide-angle parking cameras, switchable glass and much more.

The Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory intends to use the Microbus as a public relations tool to showcase the potential future of automotive electronics set in the nostalgic package of this favorite old-timer. The Chameleon has already been showcased in Germany to Volkswagen executives and engineers. It will be making its North American public debut at the AltWheels event in Boston, MA on Friday, September 22, 2006.

About Electronics Research Laboratory:
The Volkswagen of America, Inc. Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) focuses on providing customers with smarter cars, sooner. It aims to identify new technologies and accelerate their development into future production vehicles. Located in Palo Alto, California, the ERL is a high-profile think-tank representing the Volkswagen Group in North America. Its presence in the heart of Silicon Valley allows the Volkswagen Group to work directly with the world's leading high-tech companies, start-ups, and universities. Working closely with these partners allows the ERL to design and develop innovative features and applications, which are then integrated with Group vehicles for evaluation and testing. For additional information please visit www.vwerl.com.

Volkswagen of America, Inc.
Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Rabbit, New Beetle, New Beetle convertible, Jetta, GTI, GLI, Passat, Passat wagon, Touareg and Eos through more than 600 independent U.S. dealers.



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  • 24 Comments
      • 5 Months Ago
      THAT is the most beautiful bus I have ever seen!!!
      Pining for a bus in BC,
      SAM :)
      • 5 Months Ago
      http://www.bongovan.com

      1977 Mazda Bongo 1000 Electric Conversion
      • 5 Months Ago
      Auto Trading Rock - We are leading used vehicle and Car Parts exporter in Japan and member of used car auctions. We exports used vehicles, Cars, Sedan, SUV, MUV, Van, Buses, Hatchback, Sports, Wagon, Mini Trucks
      • 5 Months Ago
      Auto Trading Rock - We are leading used vehicle and Car Parts exporter in Japan and member of used car auctions. We exports used vehicles, Cars, Sedan, SUV, MUV, Van, Buses, Hatchback, Sports, Wagon, Mini Trucks
      • 5 Months Ago
      hi,i really want to talk to mr takumi kusumoto because iam not happy with the service.i bought a vehicle from mr takashi and there are so many things happening.please sir you have my email and i want to discuss with you because iam not happy and even my friends i introduced to your company are now complaining.will i ever get my car.
      • 5 Months Ago
      Aoki Trading Japanese used trucks exporter from Japan to all over the world. Exporting makes like Nissan, Diesel, Hino, Isuzu, Mitsubishi and other makes from Stock & Auctions
      • 5 Months Ago
      please sir i want to discuss with you because iam not happy with the service of your company.i bought a vehicle from mr takashi,will i ever get my car because strange things are now happening even the things iam being told iam not happy sir.even friends i introduced to your company are not happy.my car was nearly sold to two people.get in touch and will explain and i will send you the proof that my car was nearly sent to 2 people.please sir be intouch.iam worried about my vehicle.
        • 5 Months Ago
        I had the same problem with MR TAKASHI NAKANO, i lost 6000USD, he has since sent mail that the company is bankrupt, the site is down, email is bouncing, this is typical fraud from West park trading, its not blacklisted by trade car view, i suggest we combine forces with all those that have lost and get a private investigator as the japanese government is very bogus when it comes to this, its unbeleivable, please advise
        • 5 Months Ago
        May you please link me with genuineinvestmentsltd
        • 5 Months Ago
        I bought a camry 2.2 2000 model through the internet from Westpark Trading Inc Japan.I was dealing with Takashi Nakano.After paying for the car including shipment fees,I started getting all sorts of lame excuses from Takashi Nakano.It took him two months to give me a shipment date.A few days before the shipment date,they emailed me telling me they had filled for bankruptcy.The Westpark Trading Inc website has since vanished.Their phones are down.Their emails are bouncing.
        I want to warn everyone,do not deal with Takumi Kusumoto or TAKASHI NAKANO.I lost US$3800,please do not be the next victm.
        I do not know the procedure of reporting internet fraud in Japan.I am in Botswana,if you know please advise.
        • 5 Months Ago
        Did you get your car ?Takashi Nakano is spoiling this Japanese used car importing and exporting businesss.I never took Japanese for crooks.Why would you switch off your phone after getting paid for a vehicle?If Westpark trading filed for bankruptcy,why is it not shipping a vehicle which was fully paid for by March 2010?My friend lost all his savings to Takumi Kusumoto and Takashi Nakano.These guys are sharks.DO NOT DEAL with them.
        Does anyone have their current emails or phone numbers?How can we report this day light robbery?These guys must be stopped.
        • 5 Months Ago
        did u ever get your vehicle my man coz im also having the same problems with takashi ...paid up my vehicle now all i get are stories instead of the car
      • 5 Months Ago
      Be Forward - Japanese used Sports Cars Exporter, Exporting makers like Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subar, Honda & brands like SUPRA, RX-7, LANCER EVOLUTION, IMPREZA, SKYLINE, 180SX, SILVIA, CELICA
      • 5 Months Ago
      Auto Trading Rock - We are leading used vehicle and Car Parts exporter in Japan and member of used car auctions. We exports used vehicles, Cars, Sedan, SUV, MUV, Van, Buses, Hatchback, Sports, Wagon, Mini Trucks
      • 5 Months Ago
      If you haven't seen it, check out the camper designed by http://verdier.ca which is a company in Canada. That's the one I want! The music is wild - I actually liked the music better on the last version. Hopefully VW will manufacture this someday.
      Mary Alice
      • 5 Months Ago
      West Park Trading - Exporting used Japanese cars, vans, wagons, coupes, 4WDs, hatchbacks, buses, trucks and commercial vehicles of any make
      • 5 Months Ago
      That's cool, I'll take one in a camper model, or a similarly fitted out Jeep Cherokee XJ.
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