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Volkswagen has shown its first all-electric commercial vehicle, an updated version of the T6 Transporter, which features a 400km driving range, depending on the model you choose.
The electric T6 arrives as part of a general update and upgrade for the Transport, Caravelle and California range. Co-developed with tuning and motorsports company ABT, the electric version of the Transporter will come with a choice of 38.8kWh or 77.6kWh battery packs, driving a 112hp electric motor.
More conventional models will benefit from a new 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine, which comes in 90hp and 110hp forms, while the existing 150hp and 199hp 2.0-litre TDI unit is carried over from the old Transporter. All engines meet the latest Euro6d-Temp emissions standards.
On the technology front, the Transporter ditches its old hydraulic power steering in favour of an electrically boosted rack. This means that Volkswagen has been able to fit it, for the first time, with an active crosswind assistant. There's also active lane-keeping assist, parking assistant (with new side-looking ultrasonic sensors) and rear traffic alert.
The T6.1 Transporter also gets Trailer Assist, with which the driver simply sets the desired reversing angle for the trailer using the rotary knob of the electric exterior mirror adjuster - which becomes a joystick - together with a display in the cockpit. The van itself then takes over the steering.
Inside, the Transporter can now be had with Volkswagen's 10.25-inch digital cockpit instrument display, as well as an updated infotainment system that comes with a touchscreen up to 9.2 inches across. That also comes with an integrated SIM card that allows functions such as emergency service calling in the event of an accident, as well as linking the van to the internet and allowing it to use the latest 'Volkswagen We' connectivity services. There's also wireless Apple CarPlay connection and a 'natural speech' digital voice control system that responds to the command "Hey, Bulli..."
As ever, the Transporter has been designed to be a hard-working vehicle, and that means lots of useful functions for those of us who work from inside our cars. They include a 230-volt electric socket at the driver's seat and a lockable compartment in the double bench seat on the passenger side. In addition, a loading option was newly designed for especially long cargo items; it can now be pushed under the double bench seat on the passenger side using the under-seat loading function. This increases the maximum cargo compartment length from 2,450mm to 2,800mm, or from 2,900mm to 3,300mm if you go for the extended wheelbase.
Another option that will follow is a "Courier package" in which vehicle parts subject to very high stress such as the alternator, battery and driveshafts have an even more robust design.
The Transporter is also now more sophisticated, and can be had with electric windows, central locking, electrically adjustable and heated exterior mirrors, new H7 headlights, interior lights with more energy-efficient LED technology and a radio system with a Bluetooth hands-free unit as standard.
Topping all of that off is new exterior styling, which features a slimmer grille and headlights, along with new colours and wheels, and the option for extra chrome highlights on the front.
Dr Thomas Sedran, Chairman of the Management Board, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles said: "The new T6.1 is the car for the here and now. We have taken a proven vehicle and updated its assistance and infotainment systems and connectivity to the state-of-the-art today."