The retro-inspired, pure-electric Volkswagen ID.Buzz will go on sale next year, as both a people carrier and a panel van
Following spy shots that emerged of the new Volkswagen ID.Buzz van testing the firm has revealed a new teaser image of the electric ID.Buzz people carrier. Published by VW brand chief executive office Ralf Brandstatter, the retro-themed model will go on sale next year in people carrier and van form as a rival to the Mercedes EQV.
Volkswagen’s aim for the project is to revive the iconic, multipurpose Type 2 campervan of the 1950s but with a modern EV twist – and this teaser image shows how the new ID.Buzz will adopt some of its great grandfather’s styling cues.
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The deep swept-back windscreen and smooth surfacing are reminiscent of the old Type 2, as is the placement of the badge on the vehicle’s nose. We’re also expecting the production model will be available with a two-tone paint scheme cut along the van’s waistline, as an homage to the 1950s original.
Volkswagen’s designers have also drawn inspiration from the styling language used on the rest of the ID. line-up. Familiar cues such as the van’s slim LED headlights, perforated front bumper and LED daytime running light strip across the machine’s nose all feature.
The panel van variant will be called the ID.Buzz Cargo and our spy photographers have already spotted prototypes of the new van undergoing development.
Volkswagen ID.Buzz: platform and powertrain
Like the rest of Volkswagen’s ID-badged electric vehicles, the ID.Buzz will be based on the MEB platform. Buyers will have a choice of either panel van or three-row passenger van variants, both of which will be available with batteries ranging in size from 48kWh to 111kWh. The larger unit will offer a maximum range of around 340 miles.
The van’s powertrain options will be the same as those found in the ID.3 hatchback and ID.4 SUV, with a 201bhp single-motor, rear-wheel-drive option sitting at the lower end of the line-up. However, a four wheel-drive, dual-motor model is also expected, producing a punchy 295bhp.
Like the rest of Volkswagen’s MEB electric vehicles, the ID.Buzz should also offer support for 135kW DC fast charging, which means 77kWh battery can be topped up from 0-80 per cent in 26 minutes.
Speaking at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen’s then-design boss Oliver Stefani told Auto Express: “We would like to bring [the Microbus] back because it fits so well to what the brand stands for: it’s emotional, it has functionality, it makes your life easier.
“With the MEB platform this is the chance now to get the proportions back,” he added, referring to the fact that you don’t need to have an engine in the front with an EV. “But you can also get much more interior space, almost one class higher.”
Volkswagen ID.Buzz: autonomous taxi prototypes and MOIA
Volkswagen isn’t just aiming the ID.Buzz at the private sector. In September 2021, the brand unveiled an autonomous prototype version of the van at the Munich Motor Show, and announced that it will soon enter service in Germany as part of its new ride hailing business.
The self-driving electric van will run its first fare in 2025 under Volkswagen’s recently formed, Uber-rivalling mobility company, MOIA. Unlike its main rival, though, MOIA pools multiple fares into the same vehicle in an effort to use the road network more efficiently and ease inner-city congestion – hence the choice of the three-row ID.Buzz.
To make the ID.Buzz autonomous, Volkswagen has partnered with American technology company Argo AI. In a joint project the two companies started by fitting the EV with an arsenal of cameras, radar sensors and LIDAR sensors, (housed in the pod attached to the van’s roof), which can detect objects from a distance of more than 400 metres.
The hardware is backed up by some sophisticated software which Volkswagen says can predict the actions of pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles. The brand also says the system will react naturally to any hazards, controlling the steering, throttle and brakes smoothly “like an experienced driver.”
The complexity of the self-driving system means that Volkswagen will only release the autonomous ID.Buzz in Hamburg to start with, so it can control as many variables of the EV’s development as possible. However, the technology will be rolled out across more cities as the software improves.
Despite the challenge, Christain Senger, head of autonomous driving at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, is confident in the system’s capability. He said: “An environment recognition system from six LIDAR, 11 radar and 14 cameras, distributed over the entire vehicle, can capture much more than any human driver can from their seat.”
Volkswagen and Argo AI are currently developing the autonomous ID.Buzz at a nine-hectare facility near Munich airport. The site has been designed to simulate a range of traffic situations specific to European driving conditions.
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