Volkswagen may be firmly focused on its future, but that doesn’t mean its lost sight of the past.
On Tuesday, the German automaker updated its “Type 20” concept, a fully electric version of the beloved the Type 2 Microbus, according to CNET. Originally on the market from 1950 and 1967, this particular model was built using the skeleton of an 11-window model from 1962.
Developed by engineers at Volkswagen’s Innovation and Engineering Center California (IECC), which was formerly its Silicon Valley-based Electronics Research Laboratory, the vehicle’s old combustion engine-powered drivetrain has been replaced with something a little more up to date. It now features 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 sports a custom-designed active pneumatic suspension system, developed in conjunction with Porsche, that allows the van to actually rise when it senses its driver approaching.
As impressive as its new BEV drivetrain and suspension might be, engineers didn’t stop there. The driver’s second window is equipped with a 720p wide-angle camera that will use facial recognition to identify the driver and allow entry. Then there are the series of microphones installed throughout the Microbus—front exterior, driver cockpit and rear passenger zone—that feed into a Conversational Digital Assistant that can answer commands and answer certain questions. The dashboard also features a Looking Glass II holographic display that will display 3-D images. Finally, the vehicle is outfitted with some techno-organic-looking fixtures—wheels, steering wheel, side-view mirror stanchion and rear seat supports—that were cooked up using “generative design.”
While you won’t see the “Type 20” on the road any time soon—the company intends to display it at IECC along with other prototypes—that doesn’t mean Volkswagen doesn’t have a consumer electric microbus in the works. The company intends to start selling the I.D. Buzz, a decidedly modern update on original VW bus, which also started as a concept vehicle, in 2022.
See more photos of the “Type 20” below: