In the race toward electrification, some car companies are more motivated than others. Take Volkswagen: Still reeling from the fallout of its Dieselgate scandal, the German giant’s various arms are announcing, developing, and trying to sell EVs at a dizzying pace, from Audi’s E-Tron SUV to Porsche’s Taycan, to a slew of VWs in the pipeline. And funnily enough, VW’s rush to the future has put me a bit back in time, and into a dune buggy.
This swoopy green sand machine, called the ID Buggy, isn’t destined for production, unlike VW’s revived-as-electric Microbus. The concept’s mission is to prove the flexibility of VW’s Modularer E-Antriebs-Baukasten, or MEB, or modular electric car platform. The idea is to that, like the old Beetles enthusiasts turned into dune buggies, today’s electrics can become just about anything.
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A few months after showing the concept at the Geneva Motor Show, VW brought the ID Buggy to Monterey Car Week, perhaps the year’s greatest event for automotive enthusiasts. Sadly, my drive was short, speed-limited, and restricted to pavement, due to the Monterey’s anti-fun ordinances and the fact that this is still a concept car and not quite ready for full-on dune bashing. But it was nevertheless revealing about the potential—and limits—of future EV manufacturing.
“We wanted to know how make electromobility more popular, and one of those solutions became allowing third-party manufacturers to license the platform,” says Jochen Tekotte, VW’s communication director for its electrified models. “In the 1960s people took the Beetle and built onto it, including most famously dune buggies like the Meyers Manx.”
The Manx, created by Bruce Meyers, saw high-profile action in Steve McQueen and Elvis Presley films, and became a staple of California car and beach culture. Volkswagen recently commissioned a new one for themselves from Meyers. The small, gas-powered, open-top ride had a four-speed manual transmission directing power from the Beetle engine to the rear wheels. Driving it up and down 17-Mile Drive in Monterey was a thrill. Steering was mushy at best, the transmission felt suicidal, and the wipers didn’t so much move a molecule of mist from the windshield. But it was light and small and quick, and it felt magnetically drawn to the nearby, woefully off-limits dunes. Then it was time to drive VW’s electric version.
social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #wired https://www.wired.com/story/vw-id-electric-buggy