Volkswagen BUDD-e Concept Reignites Your Hippie-Van Dreams


Volkswagen has two really iconic cars: the Beetle and the Microbus. 

While the Beetle is still sold to this day, we were all waiting to hear more about another Microbus. And this electric van really reignites that hippie dream.

It’s hard to mistake this BUDD-e concept for anything but a new generation of VW’s iconic van, but it does feature a new twist: it’s all electric. Underneath that retro styling is a 101-kWh battery that allows for up to 373 miles of pure electric range. In addition to that recognizable design and next-generation powertrain, the BUDD-e concept also sports some cool high-tech features including a new infotainment system and the ability to connect to your smart home.

ALSO SEE: Latest in Harman’s Car Connectivity, Audio and Safety Tech Showcased at CES

But first, the most important part of this concept is what you can’t see: the platform. This is the first vehicle based on VW’s new Modular Electric Platform, called MEB for short. This platform will be used on all of Volkswagen’s upcoming plug-in cars.

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VW says this car explores what electric motoring will be like in the year 2019, with this vehicle’s 373 mile range being recharged to 80 percent in just 15 minutes. The BUDD-e concept will even allow for inductive, cordless charging. Both the front and rear axles are powered, allowing this van to hit a top speed of 93 mph.

The vehicle’s electric powertrain allows for a very spacious interior, something that’s quite important in a van. One area where VW changed things up is with the packaging of the heater and air-conditioning unit, which are integrated in the front end of the car.


The interior features a number of new innovations, several of which could be applicable to a production vehicle. There’s a pair of configurable displays up at the front of the vehicle, a 12.3-inch curved screen that basically acts like a gauge cluster, while the other 13.3-inch screen performs infotainment duty. The controls in the BUDD-e Concept can be enabled via touch, gesture controls, or even voice activated by saying “Hey BUDD-e.” The voice recognition software works with natural speech and is location aware, so if the rear left passenger says “It’s too hot in here,” the BUDD-e will adjust the climate control in that specific section.

The car also features “e-mirrors” that use two external cameras to feed a live stream to panels in the vehicles to act as the mirrors. When not in motion, the driver and front-seat passenger can also use these panels to open and close the electric doors. The display on the driver’s side is 7.9 inches in size and the front-seat passenger has a 5.9-inch screen.

The BUDD-e also has a touch-sensitive steering wheel, with no switches or tactile buttons.

Furthermore, the car features a number of gesture controls. You can open the doors from the outside with a wave of your hands, or even open the trunk with a proper movement of your foot. The car even projects an image on the floor to show you where to place your foot so it can open the trunk.

This concept is also fully connected to your smart home and to your smart devices. You can access features of your smart home and lock or unlock doors or turn off items at home to save energy. The car can even let you know if you forgot something in the car, via a smart-watch app.

All this high-tech wizardry is one thing, but it’s this space-aged look of practicality that really has us begging for the BUDD-e to be real. There’s even a drawer beneath the trunklid that can store extra items, proving this concept is very practical, high tech and future-friendly.

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Discuss this story at our VW Forums

  • craigcole

    This, THIS is cool, just change the name. Please build this funky van, VW!

  • Perry F. Bruns

    They COULD call it the Volkswagen xB…

  • Michael H

    Cordless inductive charging while driving. Ok. With what infrastructure paid for by whom? How will this affect people’s health? Up to 373 miles? That really means an average of about 250, still ok but 15 minutes to charge 80% is still a bit long but certainly better. We shall see.

  • Gort

    I grew up in Detroit when it was to cars what San Fransisco is now to computers, but have not been interested in cars for the last 40 years. However, this long range all-electric “micro bus” has got me stirred up. I want one. Volkswagen, build it and my wallet will will come.

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