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    • Electric Microbus Concept Marries Old and New Technology
    • VW is Renaming and Re-tasking its Technology Center
    • VW Likes 3D Printing

VW is pushing hard to make conversations about the company’s products less about diesel emissions scandals and more about innovative engineering and forward-looking electrics. To help make that happen, they’ve renamed their Electronics Research Lab, now calling it the Innovation and Engineering Center, California (IECC). The IECC will be tasked with “lighthouse projects” for the German carmaker, which include connected car, intelligent cockpit, and autonomous driving programs. Innovative stuff– and they’ve decided to showcase that innovation in the car you see here: the Volkswagen Type 20 Concept.

The Type 20 is based on a Volkswagen Type 2 camper van, but the connections are general. In detail, almost none of the original Type 2 remains– and what’s there in its place is decidedly high-tech. Instead of stamped steel rims, you’ll find organically-shaped, 3D printed wheels. You’ll see similarly organic shapes in the side mirror stalks and under the passenger seats– and you’ll really see them, because Volkswagen decided to paint them in a retina-searing shade of signal orange.

The biggest change to the Type 20 won’t be found among the 3d printed parts or LED headlights or digital instruments, though. The biggest change is in the engine bay where, in place of the old air-and-oil cooled flat 4, you’ll find a thoroughly modern electric power plant. The BEV’s new electric motor produces 120 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque from 0 RPM, guaranteeing a spirited driving experience.

There’s a lot more high-tech whizz-bangery to be found in the Type 20 Concept. Is your favorite the zero emissions electric drivetrain? The biometric vehicle access? The adaptive surround sound speakers? Get a sense of all the forward-looking tech in this concept by reading through the official press release, below, then let us know what you think of VW’s Type 20 in the comments section at the bottom of the page.



Belmont, CA — Volkswagen Group of America announced a new name and expanded role for the former Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) today, and unveiled a unique vehicle concept that combines Volkswagen heritage with futuristic technology. The new Innovation and Engineering Center California (IECC) will be the largest Volkswagen vehicle research facility outside Germany, and serve as the heart of an expansion of Volkswagen’s North American engineering resources, driving greater innovation in vehicle technologies closer to the U.S. customer.

“The future of the Volkswagen Group will be defined by our success in developing new technology that is designed to meet our customers’ needs,” said Scott Keogh, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “As we roll out the next generation of electric and autonomous vehicles, innovation will increasingly define who we are.”

The former ERL served as the Volkswagen Group’s research and innovation hub in Silicon Valley for more than 20 years. It grew from just three employees when it was founded in 1998, to more than 180 engineers, social scientists, researchers and product designers. Over the past two decades the campus helped develop several key vehicle technologies, such as predictive navigation and online speech, along with impressive technical demonstrations, such as “Stanley,” the first robotic car to complete the DARPA Grand Challenge in 2005 by navigating 132 miles of desert without human intervention.

The IECC will be comprised of two entities: the Innovation Center California (ICC) and the Engineering Center California (ECC). The ICC is one of three global Group Innovation centers that will be tasked with key “lighthouse projects” and focus on bilateral research and pre-development projects for VW Group brands. The ECC will focus on connected car, intelligent cockpit, and autonomous driving and parking development projects in the North American region.

To celebrate 20-plus years of innovation, the IECC also unveiled the Type 20 concept today. Built from a 1962 Type 2 11-window Microbus, the Type 20 has been converted to electric power and showcases a variety of experimental elements, both tactile objects and interactive electronics. This unique concept embodies the Volkswagen Group’s history of combining future innovation with iconic heritage, much like the forthcoming ID. BUZZ.

  • Powertrain & Chassis: The Type 20 features a full BEV drivetrain, including a 10 kWh battery, 2,500-Watt onboard charger, and an electric motor that produces 120 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque. It also features a custom-designed active pneumatic suspension developed with Porsche that adjusts the vehicle’s ride height via software. This allows the Type 20 to actually rise as the driver approaches.

  • Biometric Identification: Experimenting with biometric vehicle access, the Type 20 includes a real-time facial recognition system integrated with the digital assistant to enroll and identify users. The system leverages a 720p wide-angle camera integrated into the driver’s-side second window. The recognition is done via the Sensory SDK, running in real-time on an Nvidia Jetson TX2 prototyping package.

  • Conversational Digital Assistant: The Type 20 integrates directional microphones into three zones of the vehicle—the front exterior, driver cockpit and rear passenger zone. An intelligent speech agent builds on the existing speech capabilities of the Group and can receive more natural language commands. The system provides LED feedback to exterior commands via the headlights and iconic Volkswagen logo.

  • Generative Design: Working with Autodesk, Volkswagen designers created custom wheels, rearview-mirror supports, and interior support elements using generative design—a process focused on maximizing strength while minimizing weight, which mimics natural evolution to create organic shapes.

  • Holographic Infotainment System: A Looking Glass II holographic display is integrated into the Type 20’s dashboard, generating 3D images without the need for specialized glasses.

“We are excited to move into our next chapter as the IECC, to continue designing innovations that will bring the Volkswagen Group vehicles into the future with cutting-edge technology,” said Nikolai Reimer, Senior Vice President of the IECC. “The Type 20 is a fantastic example of how we celebrate our heritage while striving to advance our technology.”

The Type 20 will be on display at the IECC to celebrate the company’s two-decade history in Silicon Valley, alongside other installations that include past prototypes, project artifacts and historic vehicles.

Source | Images
: Volkswagen.