Of all the legacy automakers across the globe, Volkswagen has made it as clear as any that it plans to transition to electric vehicles and try to outmatch Tesla. There are a few automakers that seem to have what it takes to find success with EVs, and VW arguably leads the pack. This is not just thanks to the brand's passenger EVs, such as the ID.4 crossover, but its future plans for autonomous commercial vehicles.
As you may be aware, Volkswagen has been teasing its upcoming ID Buzz for some time now. It's essentially a fully electric van that's based on the iconic VW Microbus. The company has plans to launch a production model in 2022, which will become available on our shores in late 2023.
More recently, Volkswagen shared a video on YouTube, as well as multiple press releases revealing future concepts it's envisioning for the ID Buzz. The one that stands out the most is a fully electric, self-driving ambulance.
Volkswagen Commerical Vehicles debuted the ID Buzz autonomous ambulance prototype at the recent ITS World Congress in Hamburg. As you can see in the image above, there's no driver. The person in view is actually facing the rear of the vehicle. See below:
Aside from the video above, which has subtitles in English, there's not a whole lot of technical information available about these autonomous concepts.
The video also reveals a few other self-driving concepts that are based on the ID Buzz, such as a "robo-taxi," a delivery van, and a mobile office. As automakers move forward with EVs, it seems they need to look well beyond just passenger cars. Moreover, simply putting an electric powertrain into current platforms isn't the answer.
Instead, manufacturers need brand-new, highly versatile platforms, top-level software and tech features, autonomous solutions, and the ability to move into larger vehicles, fleets, and commercial products. Rivian is already producing its fully electric delivery van for Amazon. Tesla plans to launch its all-electric Semi in the future, and now VW is teasing its related plans for the future.
VW Commercial Vehicles head of design Albert Kirzinger shared at the ITS World Congress:
“As designers, we’re the people who think up these new living environments. To really get inside the head of somebody in the future and to offer them different things, to analyze their needs and different use cases, and then to define a vehicle from the basic requirements. That’s what design of the future has to do."
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What do you think of the ID Buzz autonomous ambulance, as well as the other concepts? Which other applications might be suitable for a self-driving electric van? Leave us your wisdom in the comment section below.