More than five years ago, Volkswagen showed off its vision for the next generation of vehicles: a cheerful two-tone lime, yellow and white Microbus concept that nods to the past of its T1 vans and embodies an electric and connected future.
That future of electric vans has finally arrived. At least for Europe.
On Wednesday, Volkswagen unveiled two versions of the electric minibus: the ID. Buzz and ID. Buzz Cargo will launch in Europe in the third quarter of this year as part of the automaker’s plan to sell more than 1 million electric vehicles annually by 2025. Notable were the prices and predictable range of the Microbus.
American consumers looking to buy an electric car will have to wait another year or more. The long-wheelbase passenger model will debut in the North American market in 2023 and hit the market in 2024, according to the German automaker.
Like the concept, the production version of the ID. Buzz and their cargo cousins are based on the automaker’s Modular Electric Propulsion Kit, or MEB. MEB is a flexible, modular system – basically a matrix of common parts – that VW Group brands including Audi, Seat, koda and Volkswagen are using to improve the efficiency and profitability of electric vehicle production.
About 30% of all VW Group electric vehicles are already based on MEB, including the Volkswagen ID.3, an electric hatchback sold only in Europe, and the Volkswagen ID. 4 SUVs and ID. 5 Audi Q4 with different e-tron variants. By 2025, the automaker expects to exceed 80%.
Of course, there are significant differences between the concept Microbus, introduced in January 2017, and the production versions that will be available to consumers. For example ID. Buzz won’t have an “offline mode” where the steering wheel retracts and merges with the dash and then escorts passengers to their destination.
Identifier. The Buzz and its truck counterpart will be built at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ main plant in Hannover, where the company plans to move its van batteries. The automaker is investing around 100 million euros in building a battery system at this plant.
nuts and volts
The exterior, including the two-tone paint job, is largely unchanged from the concept, which actually resembles the original T1 Microbus that first debuted in 1950. Identifier. Buzz is offered in 11 colors including seven individual colors namely white, silver, lemon yellow, blue, orange, green and black. There will always be a white top and four two-tone options with lime yellow, blue, green or orange.
Over time, Volkswagen will offer consumers different battery and wheelbase configurations. For now, the first European versions of the two Microbus vehicles will feature an 82kWh floor-mounted battery pack and a single motor on the rear axle that will produce 201 horsepower and 229 lb-ft of torque. Top speed is electronically limited to 90 mph.
Both European passports. The Buzz versions come with 18″ steel wheels, a standard 117.6″ wheelbase and an overall length of 185.5″ and a width of 78.1″. It contains an identifier. The Buzz is close but not identical in wheelbase and length to the VW Eurovanse (Vestige), which was discontinued after 2003.
Identifier. The Buzz has a CCS connector and can charge the battery from 5% to 80% in 30 minutes using a fast DC charger. Identifier. The Buzz lineup will not be sold with the plug and charge option, a software feature that allows the driver to walk up to a public charger and start charging without using a credit or membership card. The company said that it will be available through a software update in the future.
In Europe, I.D. The Buzz and its truck version can charge bi-directionally, allowing the vehicle to transfer power from the battery to the home. The company said this could be used to stabilize the network in the future, although it should be noted that the company did not provide a timeline. Power transmission and communication is via an optional bi-directional DC wall box.
ID inside. mixed up
Passenger version ID. The Buzz started with five seats, and depending on the trim level, there may or may not be electric seat controls. The top moldings are equipped with all modern conveniences, including electrically adjustable controls, a memory function and even a massage function. A six-seat, three-row configuration will follow later.
At the rear is a three-seater seat that can be fully folded or split in a 40:60 ratio. There are also folding tables behind the front seats, another nod to the VW Microbus past. Perhaps one of the most useful details is the ability to adjust the height of the trunk floor. There will be about 39.6 cubic feet of luggage space in total.
The cargo version will be designed exactly for what the name implies – for the transport of parcels. Behind the front seats there is a fixed bulkhead that can be configured with a window and opening for loading things. The cargo hold is 137.7 cubic feet and has enough space for two Euro pallets.
There are other ways to set the ID. Buzz on the fly, like a movable and removable center console. At the top of the console are storage compartments, a 1.5-liter compartment with a valve designed for a water bottle, and
1.3 gallon drawer that can fit a tablet or laptop.
Identifier. The Buzz now comes with the tech you need, including a standard 10-inch digital display behind the steering wheel and a more centrally located 10-inch display for the infotainment system. A 12-inch display with navigation is optional.
Beneath this center display, users will find a control panel with number buttons and touch-sensitive sliders. The touch slider is used to control temperature and volume; The buttons provide access to the climate control menu, driver assistance, driver profile and parking functions.
Approaching the steering wheel, drivers will find a lever that puts the car in neutral, forward or reverse. On the left side of the steering wheel are digital controls for lighting, heating and defrosting the front and rear windows. On the right are two USB-C plugs and a wireless charging tray that also comes standard. Since you can never connect too much, there are two consoles and two more USB-C sockets on the center console.
connection and lighting
Perhaps one of the most interesting elements is how VW uses the Internet connection and lighting. The company said in its global debut on Wednesday that VW ID. Buzz vehicles can communicate with road infrastructure and receive and transmit important information using a specialized communication standard independent of the mobile network.
Identifier. Buzz followed the tire profiles of other ID vehicles in the line and is well suited for decorative lighting. It comes with 10-color lighting as standard, although there is an option to increase this to 30. The lighting is designed to be interactive and users can choose different colors or combinations to set the mood.
The lighting also provides information to the driver, including flashing red to signal danger and applying the brakes.
Other technology includes an advanced driver assistance system. Nothing is yet known about what will happen to the US bus, but the European version will come standard with features to help keep the car in lane and display traffic signs on the dashboard. Additional systems include cruise control, which automatically separates it from other vehicles, and a parking assistant. An additional feature called Travel Assist uses Swarm data to improve road safety as well as driving information from other vehicles that have previously used the road. The company said the idea is to help keep the car in its lane on unmarked roads.