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Autodesk and VW Pair on Rebuilt Retro VW Bus using Generative Design

Autodesk collaborates with Volkswagen Group on generative design in electric showcase Microbus.


By now most folks have heard that the famed and icon VW Bus is back! Yes, the German car company is planning to bring the famed van automobile to global markets in a few years time, this time in an all-electric version.

An electric vehicle, just like a gasoline vehicle, will always again fuel efficiency advantages by shedding some pounds. This is true for the future of the new VW bus as well. It shouldn’t be surprising then to see VW engineers exploring software technology that may enable lighter designs of individual elements or components.

VW and Autodesk Team Up

A team of engineers from Volkswagen’s Innovation and Engineering Center California (IECC) recently completely reconceptualized and retrofitted a vintage VW Bus with leading-edge technologies, a useful exercise for the future of the industry at Volkswagen. To rapidly design and manufacture several components of the concept vehicle the team from VW turned to generative design software Autodesk Fusion 360.

Volkswagen Group’s re-conceptualized 1962 Microbus. (image: Volkswagen. All rights reserved.)

“We’re combining a classic Volkswagen design with free ideas and innovative technologies from collaborative partners like Autodesk,” said Nikolai Reimer, executive director of IECC. “It’s an exciting opportunity to see what we can come up with and to create a cool show car as a tribute to everything we believe in.”

Utilizing Fusion 360—Weight and Strength

VW engineers using Fusion 360 leveraged generative design from the software to develop multiple alternatives for components, like the wheels. The team completely took a new approach to the wheels for the VW microbus, designing a set that are 18 percent lighter.

Just as importantly, the team cut the development time for such a project substantially, from a normal 1.5 years to just a few months, from design to manufacture. The steering wheel was also a component of the vehicle completely reimagined, as were the supports for the seating areas and external side mirrors.

The final results are surprisingly interesting and highly organic. To see more of this project click here to read the full Autodesk blog post.

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