The writer F. Scott Fitzgerald once opined that using an exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke. With that in mind, let's take a look at the latest work van concept from Volkswagen. The German Automaker has partnered with the German Post Office and the University of Art at Braunschweig to create the eT! electric delivery van. The company says that vehicle offers zero-emissions driving and can be operated by a joystick-type device on the passenger side if necessary. We aren't entirely sure how that second feature lends itself to making deliveries any easier, but we applaud the automaker's efforts toward facilitating practical jokers everywhere.

Perhaps more impressive is the fact that VW says that the eT! can be operated semi-autonomously. The vehicle can follow a delivery person from house to house or return to the driver after being parked. While there are no details currently available on the vehicle's drivetrain, Volkswagen does say that the eT! is equipped with electronically opening doors. Hit the jump for the press release.
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eT! is electrically powered and drives semi-automatically on command

Driver can steer the eT! by 'drive stick' from passenger's side as alternative

Wolfsburg / Potsdam, 18. November 2011. For over 60 years now, commercial vehicles from Volkswagen have maintained a visual presence on the world's streets. They are helpers in everyday life, which bring us people goods, services, postal deliveries and occasionally emergency assistance as well. Volkswagen Group Research, which is responsible for the world of tomorrow, together with the German Post Office ('Deutsche Post AG'), which is one of the largest customers of lightweight commercial vehicles – as well as the University of Art at Braunschweig – formed a think tank on future transport and mobility issues. Finally, these research activities led to a completely new vehicle concept for the delivery and logistics field: eT!

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Leohold, Director of Volkswagen Group Research: "We analysed process flows and customer needs in detail, and from these analyses we derived ideas on how the segment of delivery and courier vehicles could be further developed over the long term. In this context, we focused on zero-emissions driving and available space in urban areas, semiautomatic driving functions that offer relevant support and simplify work processes and the integration of new communication technologies. On top of that, we also set out to design a very emotionally appealing commercial vehicle. To attain these goals, our teams not only looked towards the future from the past, but also worked from a future perspective to implement an advanced development concept based on technologies available today."

The eT! research vehicle could someday actually revolutionise the world of lightweight commercial vehicles. Completely reconceptualised, driven with zero emissions, thought through to the last detail and driving semi-automatically if necessary! Just how wide-ranging the significance of this research project could be for sustainability in the transportation field is underscored by the support for the eT! project by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. "The eT! research vehicle," explains Dr. Wolfgang Schreiber, spokesperson for the Board of Management of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, "unifies a whole gamut of innovative functions, which will gain in future importance, specifically for logistics businesses. In particular, the possibility of driving the car semi-automatically – and electrically – in downtown areas unifies economical and environmental aspects more systematically than ever. As a vision of the future, the eT! Is showcasing what is the maximum feasible technology for electric vehicles in the commercial market today with a special design that systematically addresses future customer needs."

"eT! is a pure electrically powered transporter that systematically transfers E-mobility to the area of commercial use," says Dr. Rudolf Krebs, Group Manager for Electric Traction at Volkswagen AG. And continues: "As a transport specialist, the eT! is advancing to become the automotive building block for an innovative, future-oriented logistics concept, which not only drives with zero emissions in urban areas – thanks to its electric wheel hub motors – but also offers maximum freedom in manoeuvering and turning as well as optimal utilisation of the vehicle's interior space. If 'refuelled' with electricity generated from renewable energy sources, the eT! can indeed be operated with zero emissions. Naturally, the eT! is not a vehicle which – unlike the Golf or up! with an electric motor – could become available very soon. But we must make plans today for what the world of lightweight commercial vehicles might look like starting in the second half of this decade, including with regard to electrical drives."

To make the working world of mail delivery personnel and courier drivers simpler and safer, to optimise the logistics of delivery and to shorten delivery times, eT! can be operated semiautomatically in certain situations. The car can follow the delivery person from house to house ("Follow me"), or the car can return to the delivery person on command ("Come to me") – driverless! As an alternative, the driver can direct the car's movements via a 'drive stick' from the passenger's side that also offers a standing seat and quick access to the vehicle. On the passenger's side – the side that faces the sidewalk and therefore the working area of the delivery person – there is therefore an electrically opening sliding door that opens to 2 different stages; this enables extremely quick entry into the vehicle as well as quick access to the mail parcels. This makes unnecessary walking movements around the vehicle a thing of the past.

Variants of this lightweight transport vehicle could be implemented for all conceivable business uses. And these derived concepts are also the focus of research activities. Meanwhile, the eT! concept shown in a world premiere at the Design Centre of Potsdam was specially designed for delivery of mail shipments of all types. The research vehicle will now be integrated in a driving test study and further analysed.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 13 Comments
      Sims
      • 3 Years Ago
      Volkswagen has no shortage of cool concepts. It would be nice if one went into production.
      Nikolaus Heger
      • 3 Years Ago
      The sheer number of awesome concept vans coming out of VW is driving me crazy. Because they never build any of them! I don't even care about the electric engine - just get these designs out on he road already!
      Orin O'Neill
      • 3 Years Ago
      Forget the electric part, what you're seeing here is the new (Up!-based) Microbus. C'mon, Volkswagen, let us have this!
      zbaumel
      • 3 Years Ago
      The passenger side joystick feature is probably for delivering mail to mailboxes on the right side of the van (assumed since they partnered with the post office). Take a look at the Jeeps used by the USPS. . . the steering wheel is usually on the right.
        Narom
        • 3 Years Ago
        @zbaumel
        "(assumed since they partnered with the post office)" You'd be wrong. European countries tend not to deliver to mail boxes but to the actual houses, and don't use a van to do it either. I honestly don't understand why the need for a joystick, i worked for Royal Mail in the vans and on the bikes, and the only thing in the passenger seat would be packets! Seems to me to be a bit gimmicky.
          DooMMasteR
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Narom
          there is one other advantage, since usually delivery men leave their care very often and in other cars of this size they have to do it on the traffic side of the car, this solution offers the option to leave the car on the pavement side and get direct access to the storage behind which would add a lot of convenience and security
          zbaumel
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Narom
          Maybe it's not made just for the european market.
        artandcolour2010
        • 3 Years Ago
        @zbaumel
        a good friend of mine used to have a used postal Jeep. It was great fun going through drive-through windows and seeing the look on the person's face when they'd hand me the bag and not see a steering wheel. Tough old Jeeps too. We rolled it one night and just pushed it back on its tires and away we went.
      Andy
      • 3 Years Ago
      Mr. T likes this
      artandcolour2010
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is much more the spiritual successor to the original, and now classic, VW microvan, than was the Bulli concept. I could see this in a 23-window passenger version!
      cswint25
      • 3 Years Ago
      THE DESIGN AND DIMENSIONS OF THIS VAN ARE PERFECT! THE iPAD CENTER CONSOLE IS A NEAT iDEA AND VW SHOULD IMPLEMENT IT BEFORE OTHERS DO. MAKE IT A HYBRID TO FIRST WITH A 0-EMISSION VERSION IN A FEW YEARS.
      Basil Exposition
      • 3 Years Ago
      Exclamation points should be banned from vehicle names.
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