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Volkswagen will take on Uber with an electric minibus

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【Summary】At the upcoming North American International Auto Show, Volkswagen will unveil an electric minibus, which the automaker will use to compete with Uber.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Dec 29, 2016 10:12 AM PT
Volkswagen will take on Uber with an electric minibus

Volkswagen plans to present its second addition to the I.D. lineup at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January, which will be a self-driving electric minibus.

The first vehicle in the I.D. family, the I.D. EV Concept that was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in September revealed the way forward for the automaker after its diesel scandal, and the new electric minibus will follow suit.

The upcoming electric minibus will send power to all four wheels thanks to two electric motors and will be built using the same Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB) platform as the I.D. EV Concept and the VW BUDD-e, which made its first appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. VW claims the minibus will have a "multi-function, flexible interior," allowing owners to modify the inside of the vehicle as necessary.

VW claims the minibus will have a "long electric driving range," but didn't specify what kind of range the electric vehicle will have. With the I.D. EV Concept capable of being able to travel up to 300 miles on a single charge, the minibus should have a similar range.

In addition to being a fully electric vehicle, the minibus will also have autonomous capabilities. Pushing the VW logo on the steering wheel allows the electrically retractable steering wheel to disappear into the dashboard. Laser scanners, cameras, and sensors permit the minibus to drive without any inputs from the driver.

Fans of the classic VW Type 2, also known as the Microbus, will be disappointed in the electric minibus' styling as the automaker has taken a futuristic approach with the vehicle's styling. The few pictures that VW released portray a curvy vehicle with slim, LED-powered headlights and taillights. The front end of the concept wears a massive "VW" logo, just like the old Microbus.

There isn't a lot of information about the massive, flexible interior, as VW will surely wait until January to disclose any more information on that aspect of the vehicle.

While the electric minibus sounds like a Tesla Model X competitor, the automaker has larger plans for the vehicle. As Automotive News points out, VW recently revealed its mobility service brand called Moia. The ride-hailing company is meant to go head to head with Uber by providing shuttle services with users being able to hail the vehicles through a smart phone app, reports Automotive News.

As Automotive News Europe points out in a report, Moia's CEO, Ole Harms, is hoping to test VW's autonomous prototypes by 2019 and will implement a fleet of self-driving vehicles by 2021 in a few cities worldwide.

VW's ongoing diesel scandal has forced the automaker to move away from diesel-powered cars. In light of this, the automaker is planning to sell a large amount of electric vehicles within the next decade. VW, according to the LA Times, plans to sell one million electric cars every year by 2025. When including VW's other brands, which include Skoda and Seat, the German group is looking towards selling approximately three million electric cars by the aforementioned date.

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