In the future, electric mail trucks will follow postal carriers like well-trained puppies.
Volkswagen, which already envisions a world where we drive super-sexy diesel hybrids that get 261 mpg, teamed up with Deutsche Post to reinvent the lowly mail truck.
What they’ve come up with is a boxy autonomous van with hub motors and, of course, an iPad dock because, well, every cool concept must have an iPad dock, right? Teasing aside, the goal was to create a small, maneuverable truck suited to urban environments.
“We also set out to design a very emotionally appealing commercial vehicle,” Dr. Jürgen Leohold, head of Volkswagen Group Research, said in a statement. To that end, VW’s engineers joined the University of Art at Braunschweig in looking “towards the future from the past.”
Not the distant past, mind you, because the eT! — Volkswagen’s concept car crew is enamored with exclamation points — looks a lot like the current-generation T5 transporter sold in Europe. Still, it’s much more handsome than the trucks the United States Postal Service is driving.
The coolest thing about the truck is the autonomous system VW envisions. Such technology would, VW says, “optimize the logistics of delivery.” VW goes on to say the vehicle “can follow the delivery person from house to house (“Follow me”), or the car can return to the delivery person on command (“Come to me”) –- driverless!”
This being a “what if” concept, there are of course no specs or details. But there’s nothing about the truck that couldn’t be built, given Volkswagen’s promise to bring us the electric Golf and electric Up! in 2013. Even the autonomous system isn’t that outlandish, given that Audi built an autonomous TTS that scaled Pikes Peak and Google’s driverless cars are roaming California.
Still, don’t look for these bringing you your Zappos order anytime soon.
“Naturally, the eT! is not a vehicle which -– unlike the Golf or Up! with an electric motor –- could become available very soon,” Rudolf Krebs, VW’s head of electric traction, said in a statement. “But we must make plans today for what the world of lightweight commercial vehicles might look like starting in the second half of this decade, including with regard to electrical drives.”