VW Kombi gets a modern makeover

VOLKSWAGEN has revealed a modern take on a classic, one that combines old school design with modern technology for a car that has appeal across generations.

In some ways it's futuristic Apple thinking injected into the shell of one of the automotive world's true classics.

The one-off "Type 20 Concept" doesn't mess with the classic styling of the Volkswagen Type 2 split-window Kombi, instead focusing on what lies beneath the metal.

For that, Volkswagen's American division enlisted the help of Silicon Valley, leaning on its former Electronic Research Laboratory that has morphed into the IECC, or Innovation and Engineering Center California.

The Volkswagen Kombi Type 20 concept keeps the car’s retro charm but installs modern tech.
The Volkswagen Kombi Type 20 concept keeps the car’s retro charm but installs modern tech.

Senior vice president of Volkswagen's newly-formed IECC, Nikolai Reimer, said the Type 20 Concept was about showcasing cutting edge technology while reflecting on the heritage of the German brand.

"The Type 20 is a fantastic example of how we celebrate our heritage while striving to advance our technology."

Instead of an air-cooled boxer engine there is a 90kW electric motor and a 10kWh battery pack for short emissions-free driving.

The Type 20 concept features a holographic display.
The Type 20 concept features a holographic display.

Instead of traditional mechanical suspension there is an air suspension set-up devised by Porsche, one of the Volkswagen Group's brands. The suspension can automatically raise the car as the driver approaches, making it easier to get inside.

The Type 20 Concept also has an artificial intelligence computer chip produced by gaming giant Nvidia, something that allows biometric identification by using facial recognition.

There's even a Star Wars-like holographic display creating 3D images on the dashboard, taking the infotainment game to the next level.

The so-called "Conversational Digital Assistant" uses microphones to decipher natural speech from the front and rear of the cabin. There's even an external microphone outside the car to pick up voice commands.

The mirrors on the Type 20 concept have been redesigned.
The mirrors on the Type 20 concept have been redesigned.

Purists will, of course, notice some changes to the iconic Type 2 design, particularly with the colours. Fluorescent orange highlights are like nothing seen on cars in the 1960s.

The mirrors and wheels are also a new look, designed to reduce weight and add a touch of modernity.

While the Type 20 Concept will never be produced, Volkswagen is currently developing various electric vehicles as part of a push to electric mobility. One of those includes a modern all-electric interpretation of the classic Kombi.


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