Volkswagen unveils eT! electric delivery van research vehicle with capability to drive semi-automatically on command
|The eT! research vehicle. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen unveiled the eT! electric delivery van research vehicle at the Design Center in Potsdam. The all-electric eT!, which is equipped with wheel hub motors, can be operated semi-automatically in certain situations.
The van can follow the delivery person from house to house (“Follow me”), or the van can return to the delivery person on command (“Come to me”). As an alternative, the driver can direct the car’s movements via a “drive stick” from the passenger’s side that also offers a standing seat and quick access to the vehicle.
On the side that faces the sidewalk—and therefore the working area of the delivery person—there is an electrically opening sliding door that opens to 2 different stages; this enables extremely quick entry into the vehicle as well as quick access to the mail parcels. This eliminates unnecessary walking movements around the vehicle.
Among the design intentions are making the working world of mail delivery personnel and courier drivers simpler and safer, and optimizing the logistics of delivery and shortening delivery times.
Although the eT! concept shown in Potsdam was specially designed for delivery of mail shipments of all types, variants of this lightweight transport vehicle could be implemented for other business uses; these derived concepts are also the focus of research activities. The research vehicle will now be integrated in a driving test study and further analyzed.
Genesis of the eT!. Volkswagen Group Research, together with the German Post Office (Deutsche Post AG) and the University of Art at Braunschweig formed a think tank on future transport and mobility issues. These research activities led to the eT! vehicle concept for the delivery and logistics field.
The team analyzed process flows and customer needs in detail, and from these analyses derived ideas on how the segment of delivery and courier vehicles could be further developed over the long term, said Prof. Dr. Jürgen Leohold, Director of Volkswagen Group Research. The researchers focused on zero-emissions driving and available space in urban areas; semi-automatic driving functions that offer relevant support and simplify work processes; and the integration of new communication technologies.
The eT! research vehicle unifies a whole gamut of innovative functions, which will gain in future importance, specifically for logistics businesses. In particular, the possibility of driving the car semi-automatically—and electrically—in downtown areas unifies economical and environmental aspects more systematically than ever. As a vision of the future, the eT! is showcasing what is the maximum feasible technology for electric vehicles in the commercial market today with a special design that systematically addresses future customer needs.—Dr. Wolfgang Schreiber, spokesperson for the Board of Management of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles
eT! is a pure electrically powered transporter that systematically transfers E-mobility to the area of commercial use. As a transport specialist, the eT! is advancing to become the automotive building block for an innovative, future-oriented logistics concept, which not only drives with zero emissions in urban areas—thanks to its electric wheel hub motors—but also offers maximum freedom in maneuvering and turning as well as optimal utilization of the vehicle’s interior space. If refueled with electricity generated from renewable energy sources, the eT! can indeed be operated with zero emissions. Naturally, the eT! is not a vehicle which—unlike the Golf or up! with an electric motor—could become available very soon. But we must make plans today for what the world of lightweight commercial vehicles might look like starting in the second half of this decade, including with regard to electrical drives.—Dr. Rudolf Krebs, Group Manager for Electric Traction at Volkswagen AG