Production of Electric Car Could Begin in Two Years
Looking back at the adorable Beetle-based, flat-four-powered Meyers Manx that roamed California beaches in the 1960s and 1970s, Volkswagen rolled out a battery-electric dune buggy concept at the Geneva Motor Show last week. Called the Volkswagen I.D. Buggy, it’s a design study that looks to show the flexibility of the VW Group’s Modular Electric Drive (MEB) platform that will underpin a wide range of future electric models.
With a fairly long 104.3-inch wheelbase, but a short 160-inch overall length, the I.D. Buggy has short overhangs and an impressive 9.4 inches of ground clearance for tearing it up in the sand. Like the Meyers Manx and other dune buggies based on the chassis of the iconic Beetle, the I.D. Buggy has its power source at the rear, but in this case it’s a 201 horsepower electric motor rather than a flat-four. This means that the electric vehicle always provides enough power on the rear axle, even off-road. With full acceleration on paved slopes, the concept car sprints from zero to 62 mph in just 7.2 seconds. The maximum speed is electronically controlled at 99 mph.
A fairly large 62-kilowatt-hour battery pack resides under the floor, making for a range estimate of 155 miles in the global WTLP test cycle.
Best-Looking Dune Buggy Ever
The prominently raised hood, fenders and tail end hint at the concept’s off-road capabilities, while three-dimensional oval LED headlights and taillights, an LED VW logo and a body that seems to float above the chassis lend an air of approachability. The floating effect is created by the use of two colors next to each other. The top half of the car is painted in matte Fern Green, while the bottom portion is painted in a textured Grey Tech Blue. The green part visually floats above the dark blue area.
The Volkswagen I.D.. Buggy is equipped properly for an all-terrain vehicle. It features standard 18-inch wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich all-terrain tires. A solid aluminum underbody guard protects the front axle and ancillaries from damage during off-road driving, and the aluminum side sill panel takes on the function of an additional underbody guard. There are tow hooks in the front and rear bumpers for easy retrieval if the I.D. Buggy should get stuck in the sand.
The reinforced windshield frame and the Targa bar provides rollover support. There are no doors and no roof, but a black tarp can be stretched between the windshield frame and the Targa bar as a sun shield or as light weather protection. A hexagonal steering wheel, covered with water-repellent Nappa leather, features touch controls in the crossbar and a digital instrument cluster keeps the dash uncluttered. The cloth seats are weatherproof and there are drains throughout to get rid of rainwater, including the closed trunk area. There are cupholders and an open glovebox.
It’s rear-wheel drive to start, but Volkswagen says the I.D. Buggy’s MEB platform means that the body (like the Meyers Manx) can be removed, allowing for added modifications. For example, as an alternative to the rear-wheel-drive layout, it is also possible to fit a second electric motor in the front axle. In this case, an “electric propshaft” would distribute the power of the Volkswagen’s 4Motion four-wheel drive between the front and rear axles in fractions of a second. The dune buggy is even set up to add second row seating.
Volkswagen is making the MEB platform available to other companies, notably startups who want to do low-volume vehicles, but cannot afford to develop their own underpinnings. The first outside partner is E.Go, a German electric startup. A team from E.Go was involved in conceptualizing the I.D. Buggy because of its interest in building it for VW.
According to automotive magazine, Motor Trend, “VW execs love the buggy.” The magazine is quite positive the Volkswagen I.D. Buggy will begin production in two years. Will it come to America? No plans yet, but we sure hope so.
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