Volkswagen microbus-like MEB concept coming to the Detroit Auto Show

Volkswagen previews another microbus-inspired electric car

Volkswagen I.D. van concept
  • Image Credit: Volkswagen
  • Volkswagen I.D. van concept
  • Volkswagen I.D. van concept
  • Volkswagen I.D. van concept
At this year's Detroit Auto Show, Volkswagen will show off its second concept vehicle based on the Modular Electric Drive (MEB) platform, following up the I.D. concept shown at the 2016 Paris show. This one will be a more practical vehicle, something VW calls a "multi-functional vehicle for a new era," complete with more space and all-wheel-drive. And, based on the teaser images VW provided, it's going to look a lot like a classic microbus.

The front prominently features a modern take on the original's waterfall nose in two-tone paint. Embedded in the nose are headlights located near the base of the windshield, and an illuminated badge. Also visible is the continuation of the waterfall motif into the flanks. The two-tone scheme is separated by an illuminated channel running the length of the car. At the back, slim, horizontal taillights are tucked just below that channel, and below that is a power outlet cover.

Now, we've seen Volkswagen trot out microbus-inspired concepts for years now, starting with 2001's Microbus concept in the midst of the retro revolution, followed later by the Bulli and last year's Budd-E. So far, no matter how well received, the German automaker has never released a production version of these concepts. However, this time might, might, be different.

You see, VW is already planning on putting the I.D. hatchback concept and its MEB platform into production in 2020, with autonomous functionality following in 2025. VW has already made it clear that it's very serious about EVs, and even gave pretty specific details on performance for the I.D. hatch. It uses a single 168-horsepower motor, and is rated for a maximum range of 373 miles on the European test loop. The only difference VW has listed so far for the bus is the use of two motors for all-wheel-drive. But that's another feature that VW has already said the platform could handle. Like with the I.D. hatch, the company also mentions that this MEB microbus will have autonomous functionality in the future.

In fact, if this van were to make it to production around 2020, it would also fit a previous report about an MEB-based vehicle similar to the Budd-E coming to fruition. We want to believe, VW. Make it happen. Give us something to put our Grateful Dead stickers on!

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