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Volkswagen BUDD-e Concept: First Look

Volkswagen_BUDD-e_Concept_07.jpg Volkswagen BUDD-e Concept | Manufacturer image

CARS.COM

Looks like: A Nissan Cube that got caught in a wind tunnel (or the MacBook Air version of the classic VW Microbus)

Defining characteristics: High-mileage, all-electric powertrain, superfast-charging battery, gesture controls

Ridiculous features: The entire space-age interior configuration and next-next-gen tech features contained therein

Chance of being mass-produced: It may vaguely represent some future production model, but it’s almost certainly just a vessel for showcasing Volkswagen’s latest technological advancements.

CARS.COM — Volkswagen is letting visitors to the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas get up close and personal with its new buddy … er, make that BUDD-e. The high-mileage, all-electric BUDD-e concept will introduce the German automaker’s latest innovations in both electric-drivetrain technology and advanced interactive features such as gesture control.

Related: More Consumer Electronics Show News

The BUDD-e concept is powered by a zero-emissions drivetrain that VW says will allow an electric-only range of 233 miles (based on an EPA drive cycle), only about 40 miles less than present-day EV-mileage champ Tesla. The battery can be charged to 80 percent capacity in the time it takes to save 15 percent or more on your car insurance with Geico, according to the automaker.

Exterior styling bears a resemblance to the Nissan Cube, but with a more swept-back look, rounder edges and arched profile. The front end wears a large, wide-slatted horizontal grille that seamlessly transitions into wraparound headlights that stretch all the way to the front doors. A large VW emblem adorns the center of the grille, and C-shaped air intakes flank the front bumper.

Character lines and what appears to be a creased pathway for the sliding door span the entire profile, running across the four handle-less doors. The sleek roofline gravitates back into a rear spoiler, which is lined with an LED-like lighting strip that wraps around the top of the rear windshield like the arms of a Dungeness crab. The vehicle’s friendly name is emblazoned in large chrome letters across the rear door.

The BUDD-e’s sterile, spartanly appointed interior has an unconventional seating arrangement with two bolstered captain’s chairs in front; the passenger seat swivels 180 degrees to face the rear. Rear seating consists of a side-facing bench opposite an open cargo area. The front seats face an expansive, flat-screen digital display with a virtual gauge cluster and ridiculously large multimedia display surface between the driver and front passenger.

The smallish rear cargo area behind the rear seat is accessed via a foot-swipe-activated, upward-opening hatch. Additional rear-end cargo space comes in the form of a slide-out tray behind the rear bumper, inside of which are a pair of storage bins.

In addition to the sci-fi-movie-ready interior configuration and displays is a suite of technological wonders VW says “make a quantum leap from current systems.” For one, vehicle occupants will be able to use hybrid smart-car/smart-home features to monitor and control things back at the house while they’re in the car, like indoor climate control or checking to see if the kids made it home from school. Meanwhile, camera-operated gesture-control capabilities enable occupants to, say, open the rear sliding door with a simple hand motion recognized by the system.

Check back for more CES coverage.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Jan. 6 with the electric-only range figure based on an EPA drive cycle versus the previously reported figure that was based on the less-rigorous New European Driving Cycle; both figures were reported by Volkswagen.

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