Volkswagen has unveiled a unique vehicle concept that combines Volkswagen heritage with futuristic technology. Dubbed the Type 20, the concept celebrates 20-plus years of innovation and the launch of the new Innovation And Engineering Center in California (IECC) — the largest Volkswagen vehicle research facility outside of Germany.
Built from a 1962 Type 2 11-window Microbus, the Type 20 has been converted to electric power and showcases a variety of experimental elements, both tactile objects and interactive electronics. This unique concept embodies the Volkswagen Group’s history of combining future innovation with iconic heritage, much like the forthcoming ID. BUZZ.
The Type 20 features a full BEV drivetrain, including a 10 kWh battery, 2,500-Watt onboard charger, and an electric motor that produces 120 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque. It also features a custom-designed active pneumatic suspension developed with Porsche that adjusts the vehicle’s ride height via software. This allows the Type 20 to actually rise as the driver approaches.
Experimenting with biometric vehicle access, the Type 20 includes a real-time facial recognition system integrated with the digital assistant to enroll and identify users. The system leverages a 720p wide-angle camera integrated into the driver’s side second window. The recognition is done via the Sensory SDK, running in real-time on an Nvidia Jetson TX2 prototyping package.
The Type 20 integrates directional microphones into three zones of the vehicle—the front exterior, driver cockpit, and rear passenger zone. An intelligent speech agent builds on the existing speech capabilities of the Group and can receive more natural language commands. The system provides LED feedback to exterior commands via the headlights and iconic Volkswagen logo.
Working with Autodesk, Volkswagen designers created custom wheels, rearview- mirror supports, and interior support elements using generative design—a process focused on maximizing strength while minimizing weight, which mimics natural evolution to create organic shapes. A Looking Glass II holographic display is integrated into the Type 20’s dashboard, generating 3D images without the need for specialized glasses.
The Type 20 will be on display at the IECC to celebrate the company’s two-decade history in Silicon Valley, alongside other installations that include past prototypes, project artifacts and historic vehicles.