The BUDD-e minivan concept car is equipped with two electric motors: the front one produces 110 kW, while the rear one produces 125 kW.
The energy content of the battery (92.4 kWh) – which is located under the floor – enables a range of up to 233 miles (EPA estimated real-world driving range) or 533 kilometers (NEFZ).
The concept is characterized by a new human-machine interface (HMI) that combines the Active Info Display and head unit (infotainment system).
Inspired by the Internet of Things, the Smart Home system allows you to access your home from the car.
From the official Press Release:
The BUDD-e features an original arrangement of the heating and air conditioning unit: The system has been completely integrated in the front end of the car. This arrangement enlarges the space available in the front end of the car, perfects the air quality (thanks to bigger and better filters) and at the same time results in better acoustics (due to a reduction in fan noise).
The minivan, which is 181.0″/4,597 mm long, exploits the enclosed space perfectly, true to the MEB concept.
The BUDD-e is 76.4″/1,940 mm wide and 72.2″/1,835 mm high, putting it between Volkswagen’s Touran and Multivan T6 vans, both of which have been very successful in Europe, in terms of length; although the concept car is wider than these two well-known production models. It also shares the handy tailgate with these two models as well as featuring the Multivan’s sliding door on the right-hand side. Due to its generous width and a relatively long wheelbase (124.1″/3,151 mm) with very short overhangs (27.3″/694 mm at the front and 29.6″/752 mm at the back) the BUDD-e’s proportions are very taut. A newly developed rear steering system results in a very tight turning circle of 37.7 ft/11.5 m and improved dynamic response.
The BUDD-e’s designers focused on the clear aesthetics of functionality. It is not least because of this that this Volkswagen van is characterized by an iconic charm – functional, progressive, clean, powerful and likeable, all at the same time. The concept car has a two-tone color scheme, with the body painted in “Nevada White” below the window edge and the roof painted in golden “Phoenix Copper”.
Front end. With its front end design the BUDD-e makes it unmistakably clear that it is a Volkswagen. The area around the VW logo is particularly characteristic of the style: This part of the body, which is completely made of transparent plastic, can be backlit by the integrated LED modules in a number of different ways, creating an external ambient light that tapers towards the sides as a narrow stripe that continues all the way round the van. The headlights, which also use LED technology, are located high up. The transparent surface to the left and right of the headlights, with the integrated LED indicators, reaches a long way back into the vehicle’s silhouette. Viewed from the front, the V-shaped design of the transparent area harks back to the original Volkswagen bus and the Beetle, while transferring the theme into the future with an entirely new interpretation of this brand DNA.
Silhouette. The style of the silhouette is characterized by the flat and elongated roof line, the equally long strip of windows with glazed A-pillars, the 21-inch alloy wheels and the light modules that start at the front and reach around to the flanks. Above this transparent luminous body there is, as already outlined, a narrower LED stripe, which runs all the way round the car as a character line and exterior ambient lighting. The silhouette also comes across as especially clean thanks to the non-existent door handles and exterior mirrors, as these modules have been completely redesigned and replaced by electrical solutions. If you follow the strip of windows along the side to the back of the car, your gaze is drawn to the flared D-pillars, which also contain the LED strip for the rear lights towards the top.
Rear. Viewed from behind, it is evident that the airstream flows through the gloss black D-pillars; this aerodynamic conception reduces aerodynamic drag and simultaneously optimizes the downforce on the rear axle. The clean and iconic design continues all the way to the rear, with the large tailgate, reminiscent of the original Volkswagen bus, the LED strips of the rear lights that reach up into the D-pillars and the wrap-around ambient light, which give the BUDD-e its absolutely unmistakable charisma. Another characteristic feature of this electric Volkswagen is, last but not least, a C-shaped LED signature that frames the removable Drop Box.
The architecture of the new Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB) completely changes the package of the car, which is a tall order for the interior designers, who had the opportunity to create a space that is hardly restricted by the drive technology at the front of the car.
This is precisely what the BUDD-e demonstrates, because the conventional dashboard along with all its knobs and switches have been entirely done away with. It just isn’t necessary any more in the future of electromobility. Instead, the design team arranged the instruments – the next-generation human-machine interface – as a display that looks like it is floating in mid air, like a tablet floating in the space in front of the driver. But it isn’t just the driver’s workplace that is characterized by lightness, but all of the interior surfaces, which are immersed in blue, silver and white.
When you open the sliding door by gesture control from the outside, you enter an interior that is more reminiscent of a lounge than a car as we are accustomed to. The car as a loft, furnished as you’d like it. The driver’s and front passenger’s seats stand on a wooden floor. And the wood isn’t plastic film or veneer, but has its genuine three-dimensional grain. If the front-seat passenger wants to talk to his friends sitting in the back, he can simply swivel his rotating seat (just like the driver’s seat), which is fitted with an integral seat belt, around to face the back. In the back there is a soft, cozy carpet along with two conventional seats for the journey. When you take a break in the BUDD-e, you can also enjoy a bench arranged longitudinally to the direction of travel, and there is a 34-inch monitor integrated in the side wall of the Volkswagen (see page 21). The atmosphere in the back is also characterized by lightness. A mobile lounge where you can really feel at home. The interior shown in the BUDD-e is by no means fiction. The front seats, for instance, are based on current production solutions. The entire interior concept is designed to be feasible and affordable, as is typical of Volkswagen.
BUDD-e human-machine interface
Instrument and operating concept – revolution instead of evolution. The zero-emission van configured for the CES is a four-seater due to its special technical specifications. The interior style of the BUDD-e is characterized by the completely new and progressive human-machine interface – the display and control concept of the future. The design is extremely clean and intuitive to use. The whole technical architecture of the infotainment and control systems as well as their design makes a quantum leap akin to the jump from mobile phones with numerical keypads to smartphones or, more recently, from analog watches to smartwatches.
The idea behind the design and structuring of the panel was rooted in the car’s most basic function: driving, because behind the entire panel there is a sliding 3D navigation map with graphics – the visualization of travel – that thus become the stylistic matrix of an interactive human-machine interface (HMI). This is accomplished using two physically separate displays, which blend into one visually and functionally: first of all the Active Info Display as a freely programmable instrument cluster in front of the driver and secondly the head unit (HU) as what was once a separate screen for the infotainment system.
The Active Info Display comprises the conceptional focus on driver information, while the HU provides infotainment and information for all of the passengers on board. And yet both of these areas form a united visual and textual realm, as the navigation graphics and the arrangement of media content such as the display of Points of Interest (POI), playlists (audio), apps (App Connect) and online services (CAR Net) are freely configurable. In addition to all this, the main points and content should also be able to be swapped between the Active Info Display and the head unit in the future.
Gesture, touch and voice control – interaction.
Everything is operated intuitively by gesture control, touch screen (displays and touch slider) or voice control. The driver can often choose between the various control modes (multi-modal interaction), and that is intuitive, too, because – despite the multitude of functions – Volkswagen will continue to adhere to the maxim that information and controls ought to be self-explanatory. For example, in the concept car you simply need to say “Hello BUDD-e” to activate voice control. What is more, the system also offers completely natural speech interaction. For example, if you simply ask it to “turn the heat up a bit, please”, the car responds appropriately right away. Last but not least, the system is able to locate the passenger who spoke to it and react accordingly. If, for instance, someone sitting on the left in the back says, “it’s too hot here”, BUDD-e could immediately lower the temperature in that passenger’s zone. The Active Info Display and the head unit (HU) in detail:
Active Info Display – information that points the way.
The BUDD-e’s user-programmable instrument cluster is an evolution of the Active Info Display that was first launched by Volkswagen in 2015. Centrally positioned, right in front of the driver is a 12.3-inch curved display with a surface consisting of three individually configurable sections.
Drive, control, consume. Section I, Drive: At the center of the Active Info Display, the current route is displayed as part of a 3D map including buildings, points of interest (POI) as well as navigation instructions – the edges of this navigation image are simultaneously the background of the entire display. Section II, Control: Shown on the left side of the Active Info Display are the vehicle status and assistance system information as well as the current trip data from the on-board computer. Section III, Consume: The infotainment content such as Audio, Messages, Calendar and Weather is displayed on the right. Volkswagen describes this layout, which is designed to concentrate on the route and is primarily used by the driver, as Driving mode. Alternatively, as already outlined above, there is also a Travel mode, in which – among other things – the details of the route are displayed on the head unit instead, where the route guidance and planning can also be used by the passengers. The fuel consumption data (left), speed indicator (middle) and information on the energy reserves and range (right) are always displayed in a constant position at the bottom section of the display.
The head unit – information as an experience. The head unit, the part of the new HMI that can also be seen and used by the front-seat passenger and the passengers in the back, is located in the middle of the dashboard. As already outlined above, the 13.3-inch display is linked to the Active Info Display, both graphically and by software. In the basic layout the head unit displays the extended 3D navigation map (including buildings). The top level of the surface itself consists of user-assignable tiles that are available in two different sizes. Up to eight tiles in total can be arranged next to each other. Here you can display Trip Data, Audio (playlist/song/cover) or Messages/News in Driving mode, for example. Alternatively, there is also, as already outlined above, the Travel mode, where the emphasis is on the graphically perfect representation of travel content. A Home button in the middle of the head unit takes you straight out of each menu back to the top level menu.
Structured. In familiar smartphone style, there is a menu tab integrated at the top of the screen. Opening this menu permits quick access to key functions and menu items. In detail, these include menu items like Music, Places, Images, Phone, Connected Home, and Videos, for example. Information on the basic functions such as climate control and seat heating is also shown at the bottom of the display, where the all-important button is also located for switching between the Travel and Driving modes and for changing the position of the visual representation of the current route on the display. Last but not least, there is an In Box on the right of the display, which can be used to send passengers’ content to the head unit. The head unit is fitted with proximity sensors: as soon as a hand comes close to it, the display switches smoothly from display to operating mode, for instance to allow the user to scroll through the playlist in the Audio window.
Driving and travel mode – information or entertainment. Depending on the situation it may be appropriate to switch from Driving mode to Travel mode, for instance if travel content takes precedence. In the Active Info Display the display focuses on specific navigation information, while the representation of the current route is moved to the right onto the head unit, where it may now, for example, correspond to the points of interest, which are now shown in greater detail – thus making it easier and more straightforward for everyone on board to locate POIs. The default displays on the Active Info Display, meanwhile, continue to provide the driver with the most important information for the journey. It is possible to switch between the two modes by gesture control using the Home button or using the multifunction steering wheel, which has also been completely redesigned.
e-Mirror – an electronic rear view mirror. This concept integrates the displays of the digital exterior mirrors (e-Mirror). The images come from two external cameras and the system uses multifunction displays: the driver can control the ambient light using a control panel below the display, for example. If the car is stationary, 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.
Multifunction steering wheel 3.0 – intuitive to use. Another highlight is the completely switchless multifunction steering wheel – a feature that has never before been realized in this way. The smooth surface of the multifunctional areas use touch feedback. The individual functions are activated by pressure or with a swipe gesture. Touching the surfaces gives drivers palpable “pre-sensing” touch feedback, allowing them to localize the function. As soon as they activate the function there is another, stronger touch feedback, making operation more intuitive than can be achieved by present-day solutions. Also, in contrast to the systems we are already familiar with, operation is no longer limited to the customary shift paddle, but extends over the entire surface of the operating island. Easy-to-feel raised patterns on the buttons make it easier to find your way around. Beyond that the driver is also given visual feedback on the selected functions by the Active Info Display, e.g. Audio: The cover of the song currently playing is displayed in the appropriate window. At the same time, icons are displayed at the edges of the square window – in all four corners. These four icons (scroll up or down, sound and menu) directly match the corresponding switching directions of the steering wheel controls surface, making even the most complex operating sequences easy and intuitive.
Touch slider – palpable sensor technology. Functions such as volume control can alternatively be controlled using the new touch slider. This is a further advancement of the system presented at CES 2015 in the Golf R Touch. The new stage of development is characterized by higher sensor resolution, which is clearly noticeable for drivers and front-seat passenger alike due to the system’s optimized precision and performance. This enables the touch slider to recognize not only the number of fingers on the slider, but also their movements, for instance to zoom in or out of the navigation map.
Gesture control 2.0 – a digital arm. Volkswagen has significantly enhanced the gesture control system presented in the Golf R Touch at last year’s CES. In the BUDD-e the experts from the Body Electronics division have used sensor technology that is already capable of recognizing people as they are approaching the Volkswagen. For the vehicle exterior this is accomplished using infrared sensors. All it takes at the starting point of the journey on Columbus Avenue in San Francisco is an intuitive hand gesture to open the BUDD-e’s sliding door as if by magic. A simple foot movement – of the Virtual Pedal 3.0 – opens the electrically operated tailgate; this is a further development of the Easy Open function. The gesture control system of the BUDD-e’s interior is simpler and more intuitive than ever before, with the maximum operating distance having been significantly increased: Here cameras are used to sense if a passenger in the rear compartment wants to open the sliding door, for instance. Interactive displays and projections also assist drivers and their passengers when it comes to operation. For example drivers: their gestures are recognized without the gesture control system needing to be explicitly activated – as was still the case in the Golf R Touch – making it an integral part of operating procedures that are taken absolutely for granted.
Ambient lighting – personalized light. The atmosphere on board is predominantly determined by the lighting mood. At CES 2015, Volkswagen demonstrated how the dominant color of the display illumination and the matching ambient lighting can be individually adapted using the touch slider in the Golf R Touch. Also embedded in this color staging is opening/start-up and parking/shut-down of the new Volkswagen: When the car is opened, the interior comes to life with the entire cockpit and ambient lighting. The ambient lighting system implemented in the BUDD-e is a further development of that system: While the lighting situation was primarily influenced by the driver and the front-seat passenger in 2015, this now extends to the entire interior of the car. On top of this, this is the first car in which the ambient lighting interacts with the gesture control system. Last but not least, the light can be adjusted to suit the countryside passing by outside.