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Future models - Volkswagen - Transporter

Geneva show: VW’s battery-powered van

Bright spark: Volkswagen believes this is the future of commercial delivery vans.

Last-mile delivery system heads all-electric with Volkswagen e-Co-Motion

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Volkswagen logo4 Mar 2013

VOLKSWAGEN has pulled an electric delivery van concept out of the box, saying it is what the German car-maker believes is the future of commercial vehicles.

Due for a world-first reveal at this week’s Geneva motor show, the e-Co-Motion, as the concept is known, is slightly shorter than the current conventionally engined Transporter van, with a similar flat floor and a walk-through cargo area.

However, the sandwiched electric-drive layout does have its limitations, crushing cargo space down from the Transporter’s 5.8 cubic metres to a much more modest 4.6 cubic metres.

Payload also suffers, falling from just over 1.1 tonnes in the conventional van to a more Volkswagen Caddy-like 800kg payload, in part due to the need to house the bulky electronics.

VW has imagined the concept as a zero-emission delivery van, picking up cargo from freight trains and “conventional or hybrid-powered, high-capacity lorries” at transfer stations on a city’s limits, and transporting it to the destination.

“Their predictable travel routes (of the e-Co-Motion) and fixed depots would simplify battery charging and equipment maintenance,” VW said.

Sitting on a new platform, the e-Co-Motion has an electric motor, battery pack and transmission hidden below the floor.

It allows VW to package the drivetrain down low, and create a dedicated cargo space for easy loading.

“This generates ideal conditions for maximum space utilisation, and all sorts of body versions and customer solutions are imaginable,” the car-maker says.

“Whether it is a driver’s cab in front of a cargo box, as in the concept vehicle, or a passenger shuttle, low platform or refrigerated box: the customer decides.”

Volkswagen has had a previous guess at where it thought the future of delivery vans was heading.

The eT concept unveiled in 2011 was little more than an electrified Transporter van that utilised an electric motor housed inside each wheel.

It featured a special system that would either automatically follow drivers as they walked along a delivery route, or even return to the driver on command.

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Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.