The Volkswagen Type 20 concept uses generative design, AI, and an electrical engine to bring the stylish 1962 Type 2 11-window Microbus into the modern world of automotive design.

Generative design

Probably the most striking thing you’ll notice about the design are the unusually shaped, almost alien, bright orange alloys, steering wheel, mirror mounts, and bench seat supports. These were all designed with generative design. This means that a computer designed these parts. Maybe it’s not yet time for car designers to put down the felt tips.

Generative designed elements complete the modernized VW. ©Volkswagen

Generative design

In case you’ve been living under a design rock, generative design is a process where a computer is given a set of restraints and asked to compute the optimal shape with minimal use of material and maximum strength. This can lead to some highly unusual designs. Such as a generatively designed bicycle, drone, and even the sections airplane partitions for Airbus, as shown below:

The AI

The Type 20 concept has facial recognition and uses built-in cameras and microphones to respond to users. That would definitely unnerve a would-be thief.

type 20 concept vehicle
LEDs are fitted to the front of the vehicle and add dynamics to the way the vehicle communicates. ©Volkswagen

The lights and the logo have been fitted with LEDs. This gave the developers the opportunity to really animate the vehicle as it communicates. They have also combined this with adjustable air suspension. If you’ve ever looked at the front of a car and thought it looked like a face, then you’ll love the way the LEDs add dynamics to this.

The logo also functions as a gigantic button to allow users to communicate with the vehicle. It even tells bad dad-style, car-related jokes!

The Engine

There is a 120-hp electric motor, powered by a 10-kW battery pack in place of the old 1200 CC 30 hp engine. It now boasts a 2500 watt generator, with 120 hp and 173 pounds/feet of torque. The difficulty the team has was getting it to fit in the tight confines of the original powertrain.

Electric motor ©VolksWagen

It also features a two-speed manual transmission. Pretty unusual for an electric!

Weird or Wounderful?