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Auto shows are where the boldest, most daring, least practical concept cars dazzle crowds with diverse and esoteric visions of the future. But thanks to the rise of electric-only vehicles and driver assistance technology, the cars of tomorrow on display at the 2017 L.A. Auto Show are beginning to look a lot more like the cars of today.
The Volkswagen I.D. Crozz, a new electric SUV concept from the German automaker, was unveiled on Tuesday. While its hexagonal steering wheel and abundance of exterior lights indicate the flash of a show model over a production car, CEO Hinrich Woebcken said the I.D. Crozz will arrive on the market by 2020.
"We believe electric mobility is the future," Woebcken told CNBC on Wednesday.
The Crozz joins at least two other vehicles on the new I.D. line — including the Buzz, an all-electric redesign of Volkswagen's iconic bread-loaf-shaped minibus popularized in the 1960s. The two-tone update features a slightly boxier body and honeycomb fog lights that complement the vehicle's retro-futurist style.
"Everybody was begging us, 'When do you bring back the microbus?'" Woebcken said. "And now it's coming."
Tesla has a wide head start in the electric car market, but Woebcken said the timing plays to Volkswagen's advantage. Electrical infrastructure, he said, will be much more developed by 2021, and electric-vehicle costs are likely to come down considerably by then.
"We believe we need to bring electric mobility for millions, not just for millionaires," he said.
— CNBC's Phil LeBeau contributed to this report.