VW Group concepts look to the past and future

Detroit debuts for newest VW I.D. EV concept and full-sized Audi Q8

Published: December 22, 2016, 4:10 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 3:20 PM

Audi Q8 concept

The Volkswagen Group usually gets the jump on most major auto shows with a media preview eve gala to show off what all its divisions are up to, and preliminary information indicates the night before the North American International Auto Show in Detroit may be yet another buzzworthy event.

The namesake division will unveil its latest electric vehicle concept, under the I.D. identity it established at the Paris Motor Show last fall. Volkswagen identifies the vehicle as a “multi-functional” vehicle and judging from the teaser images provided, it may well be a new take on the Bulli, the electric minivan concept introduced in Detroit in 2011.

Like the Golf-based I.D. shown in Paris, the newest concept will use Volkswagen’s Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB), and Volkswagen claims it “forges links between the legendary origins of the Volkswagen brand and its electrifying future.” The future is obvious, as the company has committed to developing and market more than 30 new electric models by 2025.

At the introduction of the Bulli Concept in 2011, Volkswagen also dropped hints it might make the Beetle-based front-wheel drive minivan in the future (probably before the end of this decade). So putting two and two together, and adding another two in the form of the sleek headlight and taillight sketches released, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was an electric minivan concept.

One of the features of the concept will be a disappearing steering wheel (sort of). For autonomous driving, the steering wheel electrically retracts into the instrument panel at the push of the logo on the hub (not sure how the horn will work!?)

Another Volkswagen division, Audi, is showing off its own concept of a vehicle that is a lot closer to market — the Q8 sport utility.

The sketches released by Audi show a full-sized vehicle that is both traditional and contemporary, with boxy SUV lines and Audi signature cues like the large hexagonal grille, and the reduced window-height that creates a sportier, sleeker profile. The company says its inspiration came from the famous Ur-Quattro coupe of the 1980s — the original Quattro — specifically, the flat, wide C-pillar and the muscular haunches.

“Its design strongly evokes sportiness and prestige,” said Audi Head of Design Marc Lichte. “What’s more, we believe an important aspect of this showcar is that it offers a spacious interior with four equally comfortable seats, even with the flat roof line.”