The good old VW Bus (aka Microbus, Camper Van, Kombi or Bulli), has one of the most dedicated fan bases in automotive history. Nostalgia for the bus is intertwined with the 60s road-trip experience (I rode to hippie school in one as a child). Many lovers of the bus, unlike fans of other icons such as muscle cars and pickup trucks, have long fantasized about an electric version.
VW has been talking about electrifying the bus for a decade, and showed a concept vehicle in 2017. Now an electric bus is finally on the road to reality—Volkswagen has unveiled the new ID. Buzz and ID. Buzz Cargo.
“The ID. Buzz is a genuine icon for the electric era,” said Volkswagen Passenger Cars Chairman Ralf Brandstätter. “In the 1950s, the Volkswagen Bulli stood for a new feeling of automotive freedom, independence and great emotion. The ID. Buzz picks up on this lifestyle and transfers it into our time: emission-free, sustainable, fully networked and now ready for the next big chapter: autonomous driving.”
“Both versions of the ID. Buzz are pioneering in terms of their sustainability,” said Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Chairman Carsten Intra. “Their manufacture and shipping has a carbon-neutral footprint. We are also using recycled synthetic materials and the interior is completely free of any real leather. The ID. Buzz will also be used for future autonomous mobility concepts such as ridepooling—an e-shuttle service of Group subsidiary MOIA that can be booked via an app.”
The ID. Buzz is based on the Volkswagen Group’s Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB) platform, and will be built by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles in Hanover. It will feature all the latest tech goodies, including over-the-air updates and a suite of driver-assistance functions.
VW says the ID. Buzz offers space for five persons. The Cargo version will have two or three seats up front, and a fixed partition separating a 3.9-cubic-meter cargo space that can accommodate two loaded euro pallets.
CCS fast charging is standard, and offers charging rates up to 170 kW. The Buzz will also support Plug & Charge and bidirectional charging, which will be enabled by “a special DC bidirectional wall box.”
The launch versions of the ID. Buzz and ID. Buzz Cargo will have an 82 kWh battery pack (77 kWh usable) and a 150 kW electric motor. The battery pack is “integrated deep down in the sandwich floor,” providing a low vehicle center to optimize handling.
When, when, when? European advance sales will begin in May, and the ID. Buzz and ID. Buzz Cargo “will come onto the market in the first few European countries this autumn.”
What about us Yanks? “Volkswagen of America will also be initiating the comeback of the so-called microbus in the USA and Canada.”