Volkswagen sees a future where the bulk of the world's freight is moved into city centers by train, then offloaded onto a fleet of smaller, light-duty commercial vehicles for final delivery. Those vehicles could wind up looking something like the company's E-Co-Motion Concept that debuted at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. The EV features a modular underfloor drive unit comprised of a battery, motor and gearbox that can be paired with any number of cab and body configurations to suit a buyer's needs, from a refrigerated box to a standard flat bed.

The E-Co-Motion Concept features a rear-mounted electric motor with 113 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. A standard 20 kWh battery pack provides a driving range of up to 62 miles, while 30 kWh and 40 kWh packs could deliver 93 and 124 miles of travel, respectively. Check out the press release below for more information.
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World premiere in Geneva: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles presents the e-Co-Motion concept vehicle

Electrically powered city delivery van could transport goods with zero emissions in the future

Hannover / Geneva, 04 March 2013. The global trend towards increasingly larger cities with 10, 15 or 20 million residents is associated with growing demands for transport solutions – more and more products and goods will need to be delivered to cities and transported away from them. At the same time, legal authorities are demanding significant reductions in greenhouse gases and emissions as well as compliance with more stringent CO2 limits. Moreover, many large cities are implementing vehicle access restrictions to avoid smog and fine particulate pollution. The e-Co-Motion concept vehicle, an electrically powered city delivery van from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, now offers a potential solution.

Such a city delivery van, according to Dr. Eckhard Scholz, Spokesperson of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles who gave a presentation this evening, should be designed to exclusively utilise electric drive systems, so that users can realise the many benefits of its vehicle properties. In the specification for such a project, top priority should be given to a vehicle that is highly manoeuvrable with a small footprint and offers very good all-round visibility with a high seat position. In addition, very good seat ergonomics with easy entry and walk-through are desirable. Loading should be made easy by a low cargo floor height, and the vehicle should also offer a large cargo capacity. Ideally, the overall concept should be implemented as a uniform platform that could serve as a basis for as many derivatives as possible − for a wide variety of body concepts and customer solutions.

The electric drive unit is mounted to the rear axle together with a single-speed planetary gearbox to achieve large wheel turning angles at the front axle and thereby the manoeuvrability that is so important for city operation. As a result, its turning circle is 8.95 metres, which is unique in this vehicle class. The continuous power output of the compact drive unit is an energy-saving 50 kW / 68 PS. The drive unit's maximum power is 85 kW / 115 PS, while its maximum torque of 270 Nm enables good acceleration even in heavily loaded vehicles. Although it was designed for city deliveries on city streets, the electronics of the e-Co-Motion concept do not limit its top speed until 120 km/h. This permits driving on city motorways and short intercity routes. A three-stage modular battery concept for the traction battery optimally fulfils the different driving range requirements of customers. A battery with a capacity of 20 kWh could be installed for driving ranges of around 100 km, while a battery with 30 kWh would enable a 150 km driving range. Finally, a battery with 40 kWh storage capacity is planned for the top driving range of 200 km. The battery box was well designed; its crossmembers and rib structure let it serve a secondary purpose as a load-bearing body element that also helps to reduce vehicle weight.

A key word here is workspace, because the functional orientation of the vehicle concept is also reflected in the cleanly laid out control centre of the e-Co-Motion. Reduced to just the essentials, this has resulted in a commercial vehicle in the best sense of the word. It focuses on the everyday needs of a transporter: step in, buckle up and drive off – without having to read an operator's manual first. There are practical storage options for tools, documents and freight goods, but without interfering elements. For example, instead of a selector lever, a rotary gear selector switch is installed, and there is no conventional handbrake lever. In turn, this simplifies walking through via the passenger's side door, which is also made easier by the conveniently folding seat on the passenger's side. While sitting in a pleasantly elevated seat position with good all-round visibility, the driver's gaze only stops as it scans the cockpit, such as in viewing the control panel for climate control and infotainment, which controls nearly all vehicle functions from a central point and displays the necessary information on an eight-inch colour monitor. Also ingenious is the movable, modular centre console with computer, storage compartment, drink holders and 12 V and 230 V accessory outlets.

These are just a few examples of innovations by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, which show how the e-Co-Motion concept vehicle being presented at this year's Geneva International Motor Show could be the ideal zero-emissions city delivery van of the future.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      EZEE
      • 1 Year Ago
      124 miles for city applications would about cover most businesses needs, with some miles to spare.
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      ' A three-stage modular battery concept for the traction battery optimally fulfils the different driving range requirements of customers. A battery with a capacity of 20 kWh could be installed for driving ranges of around 100 km, while a battery with 30 kWh would enable a 150 km driving range. Finally, a battery with 40 kWh storage capacity is planned for the top driving range of 200 km.' (PR) This is the critical bit for usability in a fleet. I wonder if the battery packs are designed to be easily swapped?
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DaveMart
        Yeah, all the EV makers should sell EVs with variable sized packs that can be upgraded. Let the consumer decide how much battery they really need. And be able to upgrade.
      Taint
      • 1 Year Ago
      The designer must have been watching star wars the night before this was penned. I did it.
      islandboy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about! This is an EV that is functional without being butt ugly (sorry Nissan). Now if they could engineer some way to make some of the space, say between the front wheels, available for either a extra battery pack or a small range extender (fuel cell, Wankel, micro turbine, piston engine or whatever else makes sense in the future) that can be fitted at home in 5 minutes when extra range is needed, it would be just perfect!
        DaveMart
        • 1 Year Ago
        @islandboy
        Vans are for carrying loads. RE's make no sense in this application, you have to have power available. Many city vans are also used on almost fixed routes, and so as long as the battery pack is correctly specifies will not run out of juice.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Volkswagen sees a future where the bulk of the world's freight is moved into city centers by (electric) train, then offloaded onto a fleet of smaller, light-duty (electric) commercial vehicles for final delivery." Interesting. VW sees an oil-free future in the long term. And they are right.
        islandboy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        They must be reading some of that stuff that Alan drake's been posting over at TOD and oilfreetransport dot blogspot dot com. Either that or they watched the IEA's Fatih Birol in that scary interview on the program "Catalyst: Oil Crunch" on ABC TV (that's Australian BC)! See you later over at TOD!
          islandboy
          • 1 Year Ago
          @islandboy
          In defence of Alan Drake, on another blog that I frequent, he looks a lot at European (French) mass transit and laments what James Howard Kunstler refers to as the greatest mis-allocation of resources in the history of the world (suburbia). He is doing some interesting work with transit planners in Washington DC if I read him correctly. He also quite likes the Renault Twizzy as a practical urban runabout. If one believes in the implications of Peak Oil as some of us do, one would have visions of the future that range from electric trains and bicycles, to shared Renault Twizzy like rides all over the place to an EV in every garage. Depends on how you see the future . I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree sometimes.
          DaveMart
          • 1 Year Ago
          @islandboy
          Alan Drake is virtually innumerate, and simply assumes that whatever hobby horse he is on about will work. For instance he downrates EVs and seems to want to switch to rail. Presumable the multi trillion dollar cost of this is fine in whatever mathematical universe he inhabits. The wind storage he advocates is also not any kind of large scale engineering reality, certainly not on the scale needed for annular variation. At least I think that is what he is arguing, as his ideas follow no perceptible or logical structure. VW are in the business of sensible planning, and Drake has nothing to do with that.
        taser it
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        Geez. VW has been touting these electric van concepts for years. Time to put up or shut up.
        islandboy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        They must be reading some of the stuff Alan drakes been posting over at TOD or his oilfreetransport blog. Either that or, they watched the IEA's Fatih Birol interview on the ABC (for Australian BC) TV program "Catalyst: Oil crunch" back in April 2011! See you later over at TOD!
      Shiftright
      • 1 Year Ago
      Cool vanlet. Stick a TDi in it and I'd buy one and put moon windows on the side
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      Bret Frohwein
      • 1 Year Ago
      *ring-ring* Scion wants their xB back...
      vedi123
      • 1 Year Ago
      stormtrooper bus anyone?
      DarylMc
      • 1 Year Ago
      I like the look of it up to the height of the door handles but the squares and trapezoids(?) then a curve on the A pillar? Maybe I\'m just out of touch with modern styling. Since it\'s a work van I suppose looks doesn\'t count as much as functionality and I think the work van platform is a good choice for electrification. What I do like about this vehicle is the 770kg payload which is quite good for a Golf sized vehicle. The tight turning circle sounds excellent. Looking forward to seeing VW get some electric vehicles on the road.
      bonehead
      • 1 Year Ago
      chop it shorter and that is likely a look that would be fitting for a new scion xB. Not saying thats a bad thing, just an observation of what look might reboot that model. bring on the boxy ugly modern
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