|The Chameleon electric microbus.|
Volkswagen of America Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL), located in Palo Alto, California, has taken a 1964 Deluxe Microbus and retrofitted it with a collection of new technologies, including an all-electric drive powered by lithium polymer batteries.
VW ERL worked with Hybrid Technologies on the electric powertrain for the bus, which VW has named the Chameleon. Ten 30-volt batteries under the van’s floor provide a range of about 100 miles. A recharge takes about 6 hours. Surfboards mounted on the roof are also lined with flexible solar panels that provide an additional source of energy to this 100% electric vehicle.
A multitude of other projects are showcased in the Chameleon, representing advancements in the topics of audio, speech, sensors, displays, navigation, and lighting, in addition to the electric drive system, batteries and solar cells.
The interior of the bus features an interactive digital instrument cluster, imbedded capacitive touch-pads, digitally enhanced sound quality, 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 more.
The Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory intends to use the Microbus as a public relations tool to showcase the potential future of automotive electronics. The Chameleon has already been showcased in Germany to Volkswagen executives and engineers. It made its North American public debut at the AltWheels event in Boston, MA on 22 September.