Well it turns out all the speculation was correct as at this week's CES 2016 in Las Vegas, Volkswagen has unveiled its Budd-e Concept, a preview of a potential new generation of the iconic Microbus.
The Volkswagen Budd-e Concept is underpinned by a new platform dubbed Modular Electronic Toolkit, created specifically for plug-in vehicles. Power is provided by a 101 kWh battery pack across the floor of the concept and mated to an electric motor at the front and an electric motor at the rear, making the concept all-wheel drive and capable of reaching 93 mph.
A key development of the aforementioned battery is that in just 15 minutes, it can be charged to 80 per cent of its capacity. Beyond its use as an all-electric vehicle, the Budd-e can act as a dedicated auxiliary power unit for a house and is also capable of wireless communication to a smart home or smart office setup.
From a visual standpoint, the Budd-e Concept bares similarities to the original Microbus but brings the design into the 21st century. At the front, it includes a large grille while stretches back and connects seamlessly to the LED headlights. Other key design traits include the lack of door handles and wing mirrors, the LED taillight which flows up from the tailgate and across the rear spoiler and the C-shaped daytime running lights.
As with many other concepts at CES, the interior of the car is also quite special. For starters, it includes a number of displays in place of conventional mirrors and additional touchscreen displays instead of analog switches, buttons and dials. An advanced gesture control system has also been developed which for example, allows passengers to open doors simply with a motion.
According to reports, VW intends on reintroducing the Microbus to the market sometime in 2017. If that plan comes to fruition, it is expected to also be offered with a number of more conventional four-cylinder engines alongside this electric powertrain.