VW to Introduce All-Electric, Long-Range Microbus

Can Volkswagen rebuild the trust that was lost over its emissions-cheating scandal? Time will tell. Maybe in the short term, distraction is good enough, and the new model that VW is set to reveal at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month will be one heck of a distraction: It’s going to be an all-electric microbus van, with a range of up to 310 miles, Autocar reports.

The van, called Camper, will be announced during the January 5 keynote address by Herbert Diess, head of passenger cars for Volkswagen.

The vehicle was confirmed by Gary Shapiro, whose company produces CES. “We are pleased Volkswagen will use the CES stage to unveil a concept car displaying its latest developments in safe and energy-efficient electric vehicles consistent with VW’s long history of innovation in the driving experience.”

Shapiro said the van is a “groundbreaking electric vehicle that will further illustrate the synergy between the Internet of Things and the automotive industry,”

Will it look like the blue concept van pictured above? Or more like the red one pictured below? A Volkswagen spokesman told Autocar that the van will strongly resemble the original bus, keeping in mind three important design cues. “First the wide, solid, D-pillar, second the boxy design of the centre section and, thirdly, the front end must have a very short overhang. The distance from the A-pillar to the front end must be very short.”

The van will be front wheel drive, with a small motor up front and battery packs under the floor. Sorry, folks, it’s not a replacement for the Syncro. But with a battery system based on the 2016 Audi R8 e-tron sports car and e-tron Quattro Concept SUV, its range of 250 to 300 miles would top everything currently available in the States except for Teslas.

VW plans to build the Camper in Mexico beginning in 2017, and there will be a four-cylinder gasoline version and a diesel version, too. At least, we can hope. In 2001, Volkswagen announced a new microbus would be available in 2003. It missed that target date and two years later the company pulled the plug on the program.

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