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VW previews delivery van of the future

Techie load lugger: The Volkswagen eT electric van concept is pitched as the LCV of the future.

New Volkswagen electric-powered van comes when it's called

21 Nov 2011

VOLKSWAGEN has premiered a fully-electric delivery van concept that could preview its next-generation Transporter and Multivan light commercials.

The chunky grey concept is powered by electric motors mounted in each wheel hub and, while power figures have not been revealed, VW claims this method has freed up extra cargo and passenger space.

As well as the zero-emissions drivetrain, the eT concept features an array of future technologies ostensibly focused on making life easier for couriers and delivery drivers.

Most notable is a partially autonomous drive system that allows the car to function in certain situations without a driver, including the ability to obediently follow the driver from house to house or return to the driver on command, a little like an automotive puppy.

And a ‘drive stick’ mounted next to the passenger seat allows the concept to be controlled from the side closest to the kerb, like rubbish trucks and road sweepers, saving a postal worker or courier from having to walk around the vehicle at each delivery.

The passenger side also features a single electric sliding door that opens in two stages. The first stage gives access to the cabin and the second stage exposes the full cargo area.

3 center imageThis door, in tandem with a passenger-side ‘standing seat’, is said to further speed up the process of disembarking from the car and gaining access to the load space.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the German postal service Deutche Post AG collaborated with VW Group Research and the Braunschweig University of Art on the project.

Group manager for electric traction at Volkswagen AG Rudolf Krebs said the technologies that feature in the eT ‘research vehicle’ have the potential to revolutionise the light commercial vehicle as we know it.

“As a transport specialist, the eT is advancing to become the automotive building block for an innovative, future-oriented logistics concept,” he said.

“Naturally, the eT is not a vehicle which – unlike the Golf or Up with an electric motor – could become available very soon.

“But we must make plans today for what the world of lightweight commercial vehicles might look like starting in the second half of this decade, including with regard to electrical drives.”

Volkswagen has said the next step will be the development of a test vehicle, and has clearly indicated that elements of the eT will find their way into its LCV line-up from 2015.

The current Transporter commercial van and its Multivan people-mover derivative will probably soldier on in their current iterations until around the middle of the decade.

The eT is not the first time Volkswagen has previewed its light commercial future this year.

The Wolfsburg marque revealed its plan to produce a spiritual successor to the legendary Kombi van at the Geneva motor in March this year with the Bulli concept.

Whatever name the brand adopts for the compact MPV, it is likely to enter production next year based on a stretched version of the ‘modular’ platform found underneath the Up sub-light car.

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