Without any connection with the famous Steven Spielberg movie but somehow reminding us of the popular E.T., the latest concept car from Volkswagen is a commercial van powered by an all electric powertrain. By introducing the new Volkswagen eT Concept, the German carmaker not only tries to offer a green alternative for transporting goods and people but also celebrates 60 years of history for commercial vehicles.
The car borrows the design lines of the New Bulli concept, unveiled by the German company at this year’s edition of the Geneva Motor Show that took place in Switzerland in March, but also reinterprets the typical Volkswagen cargo theme in their own manner. The commercial van is 4.09 meters (161 inches) long, while recommend it for being used on short distances. But its size isn’t the only thing preventing it from being a popular choice for long distance transport, because the car’s electric powertrain doesn’t allow the conventional range we’re used to in commercial vehicles.
According to the German carmaker’s press release, the driving range of the Volkswagen eT Concept is just 110 km (around 70 miles) and Volkswagen says they’re confident this range is enough for the car to go from one point to another one on the other side of any major city and back without problems. However, the vehicle’s true innovative character is not given by the powertrain but by the three different ways it can be driven. Besides the traditional way (a driver using a steering wheel and pedals to steer and drive the car), there’s also the option for the car to be controlled via a driving stick. But don’t imagine you’re going to be driving Top Gun style, because this driving mode is only allowed at speeds up to 6 km/h (4 mph).
However, the most interesting mode is the third one. By using a system that integrates several video cameras and a set of special sensors, the car can run driverless. For example, it can be programmed to go to a certain place and pick up people or goods and then transport them to a scheduled location. Volkswagen says this mode is perfect for delivering mail or packages or for business that need workers picked up from and to home.
The Volkswagen eT Concept was created by the German carmaker in cooperation with the German Post Office and the University of Art at Braunschweig and is currently being exhibited at the carmaker’s Design Center of Potsdam. But it will not remain just a show car, because Volkswagen added that the vehicle will soon enter a driving test study which will determine if a production version is possible in the future.