The Return of a Volkswagen Icon
It’s something Volkswagen fans, and electric vehicle fans, have been waiting for: the company has announced the return of the iconic microbus, this time in all-electric form. The adorable new people-carrier is called the ID. Buzz – and it brings the design of one of the world’s greatest automotive icons — the original Microbus — to the era of electric mobility.
An icon of the 1950s, the Microbus represents freedom and the democratization of mobility. With the ID. Buzz, Volkswagen has transplanted its DNA to the present day – retaining its charm, but bringing it fully up to date in the era of electric mobility and sustainability. Fans will recognize the “two level” bodywork accentuated by two paint colors, the unmistakable front end with its V-shaped hood, the friendly-looking headlights and the giant VW logos front and rear. The ID. Buzz is definitely not a re-tread of the original Microbus, though: the ID. Buzz takes full advantage of its electric architecture, and therefore features extremely short body overhangs to create the most space inside.
Rear Engine Like the Original
As with other models of Volkswagen’s all-electric family like the recently-introduced ID.4 SUV, the ID. Buzz is based on the company’s Modular Electric Drive Kit (known as MEB in German). Shared componentry helps keep costs lower and also brings buyers of the ID. Buzz access to great new technology that wouldn’t otherwise be available.
The first European versions of the ID. Buzz have a high-voltage lithium-ion battery providing gross energy content of 82 kWh (77 kWh net). With its twelve modules, this battery system supplies a 201-horsepower electric motor, which drives the rear axle. Like the original Microbus, the ID. Buzz is rear-engine. A peak torque figure of 229 lb-ft is instantly available at any speed, and cruising is electronically limited to 90 mph. More battery versions with various power output levels are expected to follow in 2023.
An Amazing Cabin
Like the original Microbus, the ID. Buzz is remarkably spacious for its exterior dimensions. Thanks to its long wheelbase and compact electric drivetrain, the high-tech interior is huge, and it’s also beautifully finished, with an available two-tone color palette that pays homage to the original, while incorporating many progressive features that mark the ID. Buzz as a vehicle of the future.
Driver and front-seat passenger sit on individual seats with adjustable armrests. In top trims, the seats are electrically adjustable and have both memory and massage functions. In the back, a three-person bench seat be folded down completely, or split 40:60, and it can be moved back and forth up to six inches. U.S. market models will have an even longer wheelbase than the European model, which means they should be available with a third row of seats; stay tuned for more details on that. The upward-opening rear hatch reveals a huge 39.6 cu ft of luggage space, and two side sliding doors are fitted as standard.
While it has some retro styling touches, the cockpit of the ID. Buzz fully high-tech. A standard 10-inch Digital Cockpit display is paired with a 10-inch infotainment system in the middle of the dashboard; a 12-inch display with navigation is optional. Beneath the infotainment system is a control bar with touch sliders used to regulate temperature and volume, while buttons provide direct access to menus for the climate control, driver assist systems, driving profiles, and parking functions.
As you would expect, the ID. Buzz is exceptionally well connected. There are seven USB-C charging ports fitted as standard for all of your family’s devices, and there is a wireless charging tray that also comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The new ID. Buzz comes with the interactive “ID. Light,” stretching across the base of the windshield. It uses color and animation to communicate – for example, a signal in the right-hand area of the strip advises of obstructions in this area, or corresponds with a navigation instruction to change lanes. When the ID. Light goes red, it’s signaling danger and the need to brake.
Sustainability and Technology
Volkswagen has focused on using innovative technologies and processes to design the ID. Buzz for maximum sustainability. It starts with eliminating any of leather – the steering wheel cover is made of polyurethane, but looks just as high quality as leather and provides a similar feel, while materials used for the seats, floor coverings and roof liner incorporate recycled material. Fabric uses Seaqual® yarn, with fibers consisting of 10 percent collected ocean plastic and 90 percent recycled PET bottles.
The new ID. Buzz also uses organically-based paint, and eliminates the use of cobalt in its high-voltage battery. A dedicated plant is also ready to recycle the high-voltage batteries at the end of their automotive life cycle to prepare them for a second use. Volkswagen also offers a guarantee of eight years or 100,000 miles — whichever occurs first — on the ID. Buzz battery.
A broad spectrum of driver assist systems makes the ID. Buzz one of the safest vehicles in its class. Interconnected technologies include standard Front Assist, Lane Assist, and Dynamic Road Sign Display. Optional systems include Adaptive Cruise Control, Side Assist, Travel Assist, Emergency Assist, Park Assist, Light Assist, and Area View.
Long Wheelbase for the U.S.
The ID. Buzz was introduced for Europe in spring 2022 as both a passenger and a commercial van, with deliveries starting in the fall. Final specifications and pricing for the U.S.-market ID. Buzz will be announced in 2023, with the first deliveries in early 2024. For fans of the original VW Microbus, and fans of cool electric vehicles, the wait will be agonizing!