Hanover - With the I.D. Buzz Cargo concept, Volkswagen is showing an obvious commercial vehicle application of its upcoming electric vehicle architecture, and it’s got some smart toys onboard.

The I.D. Buzz people mover, with ultra-cool retro styling inspired by the Type 1 Kombi of the '60s, is set to go on sale globally from 2022, but the panel van version, previewed by this concept, could see light of day as early as 2021.

“With the world premiere of the new I.D. Buzz Cargo, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is showing how an electrically powered and completely redeveloped Transporter might change the world of LCVs,” the commercial division said at its IAA Hanover Show unveiling.

Far more than just a load-hauler, however, the concept packs full Level 4 autonomous driving capability, although this technology is not set to hit the market until at least 2025.

What could be closer to reality though, is its “internet of things” smart shelving system with sensors that can actually keep track of cargo. Using the vehicle’s onboard WiFi and a mobile radio network, the control unit can communicate with a company’s job or order-management system, enabling precise online management of the type and quantity of freight and equipment.

The van has a flexible route planning system that takes customer appointments into account.

There’s also a Safety Check function that kicks in before the journey even starts, indicating whether there are any unsecured tools or parts.

Taking advantage of the on-board batteries is a 230V power socket that can power workers’ tools for hours.

On that note, the production version will be available with a range of batteries integrated into the floor and (depending on the customer’s budget) they enable a range of between 320 and 545km between charges, when measured on the WLTP cycle.

The concept vehicle’s driving range is given an extra boost, of up to 15km a day, by a photovoltaic solar panel built into the roof.

The van is powered by a 150kW electric motor built into the rear axle.

IOL Motoring