Volkswagen Type 20 concept stuffs new-age tech into a very old-school bus

To celebrate the new Innovation and Engineering Center California and commemorate more than two decades of cutting-edge research at VW’s Electronics Research Laboratory, VW has developed the Type 20 concept, an electrified 1962 Type 2 Microbus that showcases a variety of advanced tech features. If you’ve ever dreamed of a vintage bus launched into the future and outfitted with every imaginable modern gadget, your wait is over.

For more than 20 years, Volkswagen’s Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) has served as the VW Group’s research and innovation hub in California’s Silicon Valley. The ERL has helped develop advanced driving technologies for VW such as predictive navigation and speech recognition. Now, Volkswagen has expanded the facility’s role and renamed it the Innovation and Engineering Center California (IECC), making it VW’s largest vehicle R&D research center outside of Germany.  

The Type 20 concept is based on a 1962 11-window Type 2 Microbus and its battery-electric powertrain is said to be derived from the vintage-inspired I.D. Buzz microbus concept, consisting of a 120-hp, 173-lb-ft electric motor paired with a 10kWh battery pack. No performance or range specs have been released. The Type 20 has a custom active air suspension with variable ride height, developed in conjunction with Porsche, and a real-time biometric facial recognition system that identifies authenticated users, accepts voice commands from outside the van, and even raises or lowers the Bus per the driver’s wishes as they approach the vehicle. VW’s Conversational Digital Assistant advanced speech recognition has three operational zones with dedicated directional microphones to take commands from the cockpit, rear passenger zone, and near the front exterior. Exterior commands are acknowledged via the LED headlights and illuminated Volkswagen logo.

Volkswagen Type 20 Concept Vehicle
Volkswagen Type 20 Concept Vehicle Interior

Volkswagen Type 20 Concept Vehicle

Inside, the dashboard has been updated with a Looking Glass II holographic auto-stereo display that generates 3D images without needing special glasses.

Exterior design features like the Type 20’s custom filigreed wheels, side-view mirror supports, and interior support elements were designed using Autodesk software and what VW is calling Generative Design, which focuses on maximizing strength and minimizing weight, mimicking “natural evolution to create organic shapes.”

The IECC’s work will be split between two new work groups, the Innovation Center California (ICC) and the Engineering Center California. The ICC is now one of three global innovation centers for the VW group and the scientists there will work on important “lighthouse projects,” doing bilateral research and pre-development projects for VW’s portfolio of brands. The ECC’s work will be centered on autonomous driving and parking, intelligent cockpit tech, and connectivity.

Nikolai Reimer, Senior Vice President of the IECC, said in a statement, “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. The Type 20 is a fantastic example of how we celebrate our heritage while striving to advance our technology.”

The Type 20 concept will go on display at the IECC in Silicon Valley, next to other past prototypes, historic vehicles, and significant artifacts from the ERL’s projects. No doubt, the Type 20 takes #vanlife to a whole new level.

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