Press Release) VOLKSWAGEN ELECTRONICS RESEARCH LABORATORY DISPLAYS
FUTURISTIC TECHNOLOGY IN A FAMILIAR AND NOSTALGIC PACKAGE
PALO ALTO, Calif.—Volkswagen of America, Inc. is introducing an
exciting new concept vehicle from its Electronics Research
Laboratory (ERL), located in Palo Alto, California. The ERL has
taken a 1964 Deluxe Microbus and retrofitted it with a collection of
cutting edge technologies. Dubbed the “Chameleon”, this renovated
bus contains projects developed by ERL engineers and external
partners that explore novel design concepts for tomorrow’s cars.
With the goal of preserving the classic look of the Microbus, the
theme of the concept vehicle is “Hidden Technologies.” This goal is
appropriately parallel to Volkswagen’s continuous mission to develop
technologies that enhance the driving experience while limiting
driver distraction. The large size and unique layout of the Microbus
provides a tremendous platform to creatively integrate many
different technologies. A multitude of projects are showcased in the
Chameleon, representing the latest advancements in the topics of
audio, speech, sensors, displays, navigation, lighting, batteries,
solar cells and much more.
In addition to being a cultural icon, the Deluxe Microbus carries a
uniquely Californian flavor. With its 21 windows and soft-top canvas
roof, the vehicle was a favorite of surfers and adventurers on the
West Coast, and is considered a prized collector’s item today.
Acknowledging California’s traditionally environmentally friendly
attitude, the ERL collaborated with Hybrid Technologies (www.hybridtechnologies.com)
to replace the original VW engine with an all electric drive engine
powered by lithium polymer batteries. Surfboards mounted on the roof
are also lined with flexible solar panels that provide an additional
source of energy to this 100% electric vehicle.
The interior of the bus is full of surprises, with an interactive
digital instrument cluster, imbedded capacitive touch-pads,
digitally enhanced sound quality, exciting rear seat entertainment
options, and speech activated controls available throughout the
cabin. The exterior houses several exciting new approaches for
keyless entry, LED lighting, wide-angle parking cameras, switchable
glass and much more.
The Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory intends to use the
Microbus as a public relations tool to showcase the potential future
of automotive electronics set in the nostalgic package of this
favorite old-timer. The Chameleon has already been showcased in
Germany to Volkswagen executives and engineers. It will be making
its North American public debut at the AltWheels event in Boston, MA
on Friday, September 22, 2006.