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Volkswagen says it will unveil autonomous minibus next year

The classic minibus is seen at an event at the 2016 International CES trade show in Las Vegas, Nev., on January 5, 2016. File Photo by Molly Riley/UPI
The classic minibus is seen at an event at the 2016 International CES trade show in Las Vegas, Nev., on January 5, 2016. File Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo

March 1 (UPI) -- After years of a rumored return, Volkswagen's iconic minibus took a step closer to becoming a reality Monday -- and the automaker said it will be a self-driving vehicle.

The minibus, which will be called the ID Buzz, is a small van that will use autonomous driving software from Argo AI, which Volkswagen and Ford have teamed up to support. Argo AI specializes in software platforms for autonomous driving.

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Volkswagen said the ID Buzz will be unveiled next year. CEO Scott Keogh told Automotive News the vehicle could be available for sale in the United States by 2023.

"Autonomous, electric driving will make an important contribution to urban mobility and road safety," Carsten Intra, CEO of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said in a statement.

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"Our vehicles are the logical first choice to apply such systems to."

Christian Senger, Volkswagen head of autonomous driving, said the company will perform field trials this year for the vehicle in Germany.

Volkswagen said the ID Buzz will be an all-electric vehicle geared toward a ride-hailing and pooling concept. Senger said select riders in select cities will be able to ride the van to their destination autonomously by 2025.

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Volkswagen announced a partnership with Ford last summer to collaborate on numerous projects, including the development of electric cars, self-driving technology and commercial vehicles with Argo AI, for which they plan to spend more than $4 billion through 2023.

The ID Buzz made its debut as a concept vehicle at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show.

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