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Can a ride that found its greatest popularity among flower children and California surfers in the 1960s set down new roots in the digital age? That question seems to be on the minds of folks at Volkswagen, which has sketched out a newfangled concept for the VW camper. The overall look harks back to the 1960s, complete with the two-toned paint job and the V on the snub-nose front end, but modern touches are to be found both inside and out.
Some of the updates to the older design include solar panels on the roof and furniture that appears to be straight out of an Ikea catalog. The modern look and feel comes from French-Canadian designer Alexandre Verdier. There’s no word, however, on whether VW plans to ever put the new design into production.
On the interior, the passenger seat can be transformed into steps that allow easier access to the popped-up roof. The dashboard incorporates a computer with wireless Internet access.
A swivel mount allows travelers to use the range to cook meals either inside or outside the camper.
The drawing board is one thing; road tests are another. For that reason, VW’s Palo Alto, Calif.-based Electronics Research Laboratory has retrofitted a 1964 Deluxe Microbus dubbed the “Chameleon.” The lab teamed with a company called Hybrid Technologies to replace the original engine with an all-electric-drive motor powered by lithium polymer batteries. The surfboards on the roof are lined with flexible solar panels as an additional energy source. Updates on the interior include an interactive digital instrument cluster, digitally enhanced sound, rear-seat entertainment options, and speech-activated controls.