Future Cars

First Look: Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ Concept

An electric Microbus for the new millennium

Only a year after it unveiled the BUDD-e concept and six years after it dropped the Bulli concept, Volkswagen is rolling out a fresh re-imagination of the iconic Microbus at the 2017 Detroit auto show in the form of the I.D. BUZZ concept.

Like the BUDD-e but unlike the gasoline-powered Bulli, the I.D. BUZZ is purely electric (according to VW, the name is a play on the word “bus” mixed with a reference to the buzz of the EV’s drivetrain). Power comes from a pair of 201-hp electric motors, one on the front axle and one on the rear, that produce a combined system output of 369 hp. Volkswagen claims that the I.D. Buzz can sprint to 60 mph in a brisk 5.0 seconds, though it tops out at a mere 99 mph due to a limiter.

To ensure surfers won’t get stranded while looking for that primo spot, VW equipped the I.D. BUZZ with a 111-kWh battery, giving it an estimated 270 miles of range. It can be recharged to 80% of capacity in 30 minutes using the combined charging system or an indicative charging interface; no estimates were provided for conventional charge times, but its safe to say it will recharge “eventually.”

With 194.5 inches of length to work with and 129.9 inches between the axles, the I.D. BUZZ is no compact. It is built on the same MEB modular electric platform as the BUDD-e, but can seat eight and offers two cargo compartments.

Volkswagen ID BUZZ concept interior 1

But wait, there’s more!

Because it’s a concept show in 2017, you probably gathered that the I.D. BUZZ has some kind of autonomous capability. If you did, you’re right! The concept was designed with autonomy in mind and comes equipped with laser, radar, and ultrasonic sensors as well as multiple cameras. The driver switches the I.D. BUZZ into autonomous “I.D. Pilot” mode by pushing on the steering wheel, which then retracts into the center console. Volkswagen says that this technology could hit the market by 2025.

Additionally, the I.D. Buzz is fitted with Volkswagen’s User-ID system, which is an individual profile that stores preferences like air conditioning settings, seat position, navigation, and more. The data is stored “in the cloud” and the car recognizes who the driver is via their smartphone.

Volkswagen ID BUZZ concept front end 1

Will they actually make it this time?

When it comes to relaunching the Microbus Volkswagen has more false start penalties than the 2015 Oakland Raiders. However, thanks to Dieselgate and the electrification push VW has embarked on in that scandal’s wake, the odds are actually in our favor.

According to VW brand management board chairman Dr. Herbert Diess, MEB-based vehicles will hit the market starting in 2020. The brand has set the lofty goal of selling one million EVs annually by 2025 for itself; given how their drive to sell 800,000 vehicles in the US by 2018 worked out, that target may prove to be out of reach if not entirely ill-advised, but it does make one thing clear: Volkswagen is going all in on electrification. More power to that.

 

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