Detroit auto show update
By Ron Amadon
Is this the return of the VW bus? Volkswagen revealed the I.D. Buzz concept calling it “a Microbus for a new era.”
All-electric driving range of up to 270 miles, comparable to gasoline powered cars
Maximum flexibility: I.D. electric drive system allows seating for up to eight and two luggage compartments
Focus on people: in the fully autonomous “I.D. Pilot” driving mode, the driver’s seat can be turned 180 degrees to face the rear
Traction for any terrain: electric all-wheel drive with two motors and 369 horsepower
Head-up display projects information via augmented reality
Vehicle features fully autonomous driving capability
Flexible center console with tablet display and Beats Bluetooth loudspeakers can be used outside the vehicle
What about the name? I.D. stands for “Identity,” “Idea,” “Individual,” “Intelligent” and “Iconic Design”. BUZZ, on the other hand, is a phonetic word play on “bus” and refers to the silent “buzzing” of the drive system, VW said.
The zero-emissions all-wheel drive system has one electric motor at the front axle and one at the rear and each delivers a power output of 201 hp, distributed between the two axles by an “electric propshaft.” The I.D. BUZZ can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 5 seconds, with a governed top speed of 99 mph. That is more than a tad faster than the old bus.
The vehicle’s 111 kWh battery can be charged to 80 percent of its capacity within 30 minutes.
And it is sort of a return of the old bus camper. The third row can be made into a bed. The floor is made of Silver birch wood in the concept and there is a folding table.
In the I.D. BUZZ the steering wheel does not have any spokes. The wheel, trimmed with Nappa leather, is more of an interactive touchpad. This touch-sensitive steering wheel is a new concept, which allows the driver to operate the drive modes (P, R, N and D), turn signals and various menu functions as well as settings for the head-up display via touch-sensitive areas on its surface. If the operator selects the autonomous mode, the wheel retracts.
All space age stuff, but it is lots of fun to think about. Who will be the first to decorate the exterior with flowers?
Elsewhere at Cobo Hall:
Infiniti’s QX50 midsize crossover concept made its global premier, a vehicle that one day might actually hit the road. Infiniti said the QX50 draws its design inspiration from the Sport Inspiration Concept that debuted at the Paris Auto Show. There is a unique engine under the hood, one that can vary compression ratios to whatever the operator wants – performance or fuel economy. Engineers are targeting a 27 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over V6 gas engines of similar output. This one is a turbo four. Interesting fact: The current QX50 is Infiniti’s best seller.
Volvo, saying that real people have been kind of lost in the development of autonomous vehicles, wants to put them behind the wheel of some self-drivers.
“The aim of the Drive Me research project is to focus on how to enhance people’s lives and have a positive impact on society. We take a holistic rather than a purely technical approach to our research and development processes. No one else to our knowledge is developing autonomous drive from a human-centric standpoint,” said Henrik Green, Senior Vice President, Research and Development at Volvo Car Group.
The project will see up to 100 autonomous cars on the roads around Gothenburg, Sweden, home to Volvo Cars, driven by real people, in real traffic during 2017. The project is set to expand to other cities around the world in the near future.
“We want to learn more around how people feel when they engage and disengage autonomous drive, what the handover should be like, and what sort of things they would do in the car when it’s driving them to their destination,” added Green.
The Swedish car maker aims to have its first fully autonomous car on the market by 2021.