Volkswagen Launches BUDD-e All-Electric Van Concept As US Sues Over Diesel Cheating Scandal

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It seems as though Volkswagen would do just about anything to take the public’s mind off its diesel emissions scandal. VW’s popular TDI has taken a huge hit in the United States as a result, and the company is looking to electric vehicles as the future of its “green” push. That change in direction is made readily apparent by the introduction of the BUDD-e concept vehicle at CES, which is seen as a Microbus for the 21st century.

You won’t find a TDI or even one of VW’s gasoline engines under the hood the BUDD-e. Instead, you’ll be greeted with a single electric motor under the hood, and another electric motor in the rear of the vehicle nestled below the cargo floor, effectively giving the BUDD-e all-wheel-drive. You’ll find a massive 101 kWh flat battery pack mounted low in the chassis between the front and rear axles, which gives the BUDD-e a theoretical maximum driving range of 373 miles and a top speed of 93 mph.

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Since this is a concept, VW is also throwing out some pie-in-the-sky numbers for charging as well. The BUDD-e represents what VW feels an “electric mobility could be like by the year 2019” and that “pure electric range [will be] on par with today’s gasoline-powered cars by the end of the decade.” As a result, the German company reckons that the BUDD-e’s lithium-ion battery pack could be recharged from near-empty to 80 percent within 15 minutes. While a 15-minute recharge isn’t exactly as quick as most gasoline or diesel fill-ups that take 5 minutes or less, it would be less of a hindrance than today’s charging solutions.

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The BUDD-e uses what VW calls a new MEB chassis, which puts an electric spin on the modular MQB platform used in everything from the GTI to Golf Sportwagen to the Audi A3. This will allow VW to build a wide range of vehicles from a single platform, with varying lengths, wheelbases and tracks. Not only is it a cost-saving measure, but it also allows for a more efficient development cycle and makes for easier assembly once production ramps up.

Inside, you’ll find a minimalistic interior that is light on buttons and switches and heavy on display screens and plenty of open space. As for the exterior, it does sorta look like a Microbus for the year 2020 with a Ford Edge grille slapped on the front.

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It’s doubtful that a vehicle in the same vein as the BUDD-e will arrive here anytime soon, but you canbe certain that the MEB platform and a increase used of electrified powertrains throughout the VW product family will increase as it lessens its reliance on TDI engines. And speaking of TDIs, the U.S. Department of Justice earlier this week sued VW over its use of emissions cheating software. Although earlier reports suggested that VW could face fines in excess of $18 billion, this new lawsuit places the theoretical maximum fine at a whopping $90 billion ($37,500 per vehicle).

"The United States will pursue all appropriate remedies against Volkswagen to redress the violations of our nation's clean air laws alleged in the complaint," said John Cruden, assistant AG for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.