Volkswagen's Electric Dune Buggy Is Here and It's Super Cool
The concept has 201 horsepower and 155 miles of sand-slingin' range.
Meet Volkswagen's I.D. Buggy concept, an electric dune buggy making its debut at the Geneva auto show and evidence the brand can still have fun even as it commits itself to an electrified future. Perhaps the most important thing to know about it is that it's very awesome, but also worthwhile is that the concept rides on the automaker's vaunted MEB (modular electric drive) platform that will underpin a myriad of vehicles for various Volkswagen Group brands (and could even spawn some Ford EVs if that partnership does indeed expand). The concept has no roof or doors, showing MEB's versatile nature, but it does have a weatherproof interior with integrated seats and a digital cockpit.
The two-seater hearkens back to California dune buggies like the Meyers Manx that cruised beaches in the '60s and '70s. They often had a VW Beetle chassis, a flat-four engine in the rear, and fiberglass bodies of every description. The I.D. Buggy tries to recapture that spirit, inviting owners to convert it to a 2+2 or add another electric motor to the front axle to give it four-wheel drive.
Energy comes from a 62-kWh lithium-ion battery packaged in the floor, while a 201-hp, 228-lb-ft electric motor is situated at the rear axle. The powertrain was optimized for short spurts of power, with a range of 155 miles, and VW says the I.D. Buggy can hit 62 mph from a standstill in 7.2 seconds and has an electronically controlled top speed of 99 mph.
The hood sits up high like a proper buggy's, and it has the requisite tall fenders and rear end, too, at least visually, since there's no dual exhaust angled toward the sky. The head- and taillights are ovals, and the LED-lit VW logo that's quickly becoming an I.D. family signature is affixed front and rear. To create the illusion that the body is floating above the chassis, designers painted the top half of the car in matte Fern Green and the bottom in a textured and dark Gray Tech Blue.
Inside, the headrests and seatbelt latches are integrated into the seats, the hexagonal steering wheel is covered in water-repellent Nappa leather, and a longboard outfitted with miniature wheels and tires to match the Buggy's 18-inch rollers and BFGoodrich All-Terrain rubber is strapped down in back. There are also touch controls on the windshield header and an anti-slip floor.
The Buggy features an aluminum underbody guard and protective side-sill panels to protect the front axle, structure, and battery pack, the latter key to keep safe if you've kept up with what can happen when lithium-ion cells are ruptured. There are steel tow hooks in the bumper for pulling the Buggy out of trouble—or using it as the rescue vehicle—while the windshield frame and rollover bar have been reinforced in case the open-air vehicle goes shiny side down. Should the sun gets to be too much, a tarp can be stretched across the top for a bit of shade.
This is not a large vehicle: Its 104.3-inch wheelbase is longer than a Fiat 500L's but the VW is shorter overall by some eight inches, its sense of stubbiness accentuated by the short front and rear overhangs. Ground clearance is an impressive 9.4 inches; that leaves a lot of room for traversing deep sand.
The Buggy joins the growing I.D. family. The VW I.D. hatch will be the first vehicle from the MEB platform designed to underpin 10 million electric vehicles—more than 15 mainstream vehicles of all shapes and sizes across four brands—by the end of 2022. MEB can accommodate electric motors on either axle and the battery packs are located in the floor and can be recharged up to 80 percent in about 30 minutes using fast-charging. The I.D. hatch won't come to the U.S. but its followup, the I.D. Crozz crossover, will. As will the much-anticipated I.D. Buzz electric microbus due in 2022, and the I.D. Vizzion sedan. All will be made in the Zwickau, Germany, plant that will be Volkswagen's first dedicated facility for assembling EVs.
The VW Group has another PPE EV platform in the works for high-performance luxury electric vehicles that will start to roll out starting in 2022. The J1 platform Porsche is using for the Taycan and the modified MLB architecture under the Audi e-tron are stopgaps.