A bit of Bulli - the new ID Buzz Cargo electric van concept previews a model that VW plans to get to market as early as 2021

A bit of Bulli - the new ID Buzz Cargo electric van concept previews a model that VW plans to get to market as early as 2021

Volkswagen's commercial vehicle arm has shown the world premiere of the new ID Buzz Cargo - the commercial vehicle relation of the electric ID Buzz. It debuted this week at the IAA commercial vehicles show in Hannover.

VW said that it is a supplementary model to the best-selling "T6" and could be launched into the market as early as 2021. The concept vehicle also offers a glimpse into the middle of the next decade with its alternative, fully-automated "ID Pilot" driving mode (level 4).

The ID Buzz was developed jointly by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Volkswagen Passenger Cars. Volkswagen Passenger Cars focused on the van (people carrier) and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles on the cargo version. Both models are members of the 'ID Family' – a new generation of fully connected electric vehicles which VW claims will be 'delivering the ranges of today's petrol vehicles, a progressive design-DNA and impressive space.'

VW says another attribute of the ID Family is the scalability of its batteries. The models can be delivered with different battery sizes according to vehicles purpose of use and budget. And this applies also to the future ID Buzz Cargo. which like all models in the ID Family, is based on the Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB). VW claims that with the MEB it is possible – dependent on battery size and the model concerned – to achieve ranges of about 330 to over 500 km (as per WLTP).

The ID Buzz Cargo concept is differentiated from the people carrying version by a new solar roof, wide-opening rear wing doors and a new rear bumper. With a view towards optimising utilisation of the cargo space with shelving systems, there is no sliding door on the driver's side – and this is typical of transporters. The front doors and sliding door open electrically. Unlocking the vehicle from the outside is activated via a sensor solution. The Cargo recognises authorised persons via a digital key which is sent to the van from a smartphone.

The solar module on the roof has a photovoltaic system that VW says 'generates so much energy that it is able to extend the range of the ID Buzz Cargo by up to 15 km a day.

There is no cockpit in the conventional sense in the ID Buzz Cargo. Instead, key information is projected onto the road in 3D via its AR - Augmented Reality - head-up display. This positions the information precisely in the driver's line-of-sight, allowing the driver to concentrate fully on road traffic. Other information is displayed on a tablet; features such as infotainment and climate control functions are also operated via this portable tablet. The main controls for driving, meanwhile, are located on the steering wheel. Its inner section is not fitted with spokes and buttons – as is normal today – rather it has a touchpad with a variety of fields.

'Internet of Things' will be on-board in the cargo space

The cargo compartment begins behind the first seat row and a bulkhead. Like the rest of the transporter, it was "re-thought", VW says. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles says it is bringing the "Internet of Things" on board in this van. In cooperation with the German equipment specialist Sortimo, a new shelving system has been developed for the cargo area and fitted with sensors and a lighting system. This shelving system is connected to the intelligent vehicle via a customer-specific function control unit and a CAN interface. The data is transferred by WLAN to tablets in the cargo space and cockpit. By means of a mobile radio network, the functional control unit might communicate with a company's job or order management system, theoretically making it possible to track all articles on the shelves. This, VW says, enables precise online management of the type and quantity of freight and equipment in the zero-emission Bulli. Further data is provided by the already available ConnectedVan fleet management system.

During autonomous driving it is possible to accept, schedule and process orders from the driver's workplace. Thanks to the connected shelving system's data it is also possible to perform order-related stock checks while on the move.

The electric drive of the Buzz Cargo consists mainly of the electric motor with power electronics and 1-speed gearbox integrated into the driven rear axle, the lithium-ion battery and auxiliary units integrated in the front body. The flow of high-voltage energy between the motor and the battery is controlled by the power electronics. Here, the direct current (DC) stored in the battery is converted into alternating current (AC). A DC/DC converter supplies the on-board electronics with 12 volts. VW says it is possible to equip the ID Buzz Cargo with different size batteries according to the vehicle's use profile. If the transporter covers fairly normal distances in the city on a daily and weekly basis, a lithium-ion battery with an energy capacity of 48 kWh is recommended. If greater range is needed, the energy capacity can be increased up to 111 kWh.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has combined the battery in the Cargo being presented in Hannover with a 150 kW electric motor. The vehicle's top speed is electronically limited to 160 km/h.

The high-voltage battery of the Cargo is charged by cable connection. Using fast charging systems operating at 150 kW direct current, the 48-kWh battery can be charged to 80 per cent capacity in 15 minutes; for the largest battery expansion stage with an energy capacity of 111 kW it takes 30 minutes. As an alternative, the high-voltage battery can be charged from any conventional household socket, charging stations with a wide variety of power outputs or wallboxes.

VW points out that the battery system of the future production version has also been prepared for inductive charging with 11 kW of charging power.