Volkswagen turns a 1962 van into one of its most high-tech cars

The one-off showcases future tech.

Volkswagen celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Silicon Valley research center by turning a 1962 11-window bus into one of the most high-tech cars it has ever built. Called Type 20, the resto-modded classic is a one-off, but it showcases some of the technology the German firm will pack into its cars during the 2020s.

The 11-window Microbus is one of the most sought-after Volkswagen classics, so the project was a little bit controversial from the get-go. Avert your eyes now, purists. The firm began the build by removing the air-cooled, flat-four engine and the fuel tank that feeds. It installed an electric motor that draws electricity from a relatively small 10-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack to zap the rear wheels with 120 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque, figures the Mirobus could only dream of.

Active suspension technology provided by Porsche enables the Type 20 to lift itself off the ground when it senses the driver approaches. Facial recognition technology relies on a wide-angle, 720p camera integrated into the driver-side window to identify the person about to hop behind the driver's seat. Once inside, the occupants can use voice command technology to perform a variety of functions.

The tech packed into the Type 20 isn't hidden; it's almost impossible to mistake it for a stock example. Volkswagen notably worked with Autodesk to design new wheels and mirror mounts for the build. The steering wheel receives the same treatment, and the screen embedded in the middle of the dashboard certainly isn't stock.

Volkswagen's Silicon Valley research center isn't planning on starting a restoration business. The Type 20 is a one-of-a-kind model. However, the I.D. Buzz concept is well on its way to production, and it's scheduled for a 2022 launch, so buyers who want a bus with modern-day features won't need to wait for very long.

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