Automotive

Volkswagen readies US return of the (electric) Microbus

Volkswagen readies US return o...
Volkswagen will debut the ID. Buzz on March 9
Volkswagen will debut the ID. Buzz on March 9
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At just over 470 cm long, the ID. Buzz is well shorter than the T6.1 and sized more in line with a Caddy compact van
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At just over 470 cm long, the ID. Buzz is well shorter than the T6.1 and sized more in line with a Caddy compact van
The ID. Buzz shows a little bit of nose, but designers strived to maintain a look true to the concept and the original T1 van
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The ID. Buzz shows a little bit of nose, but designers strived to maintain a look true to the concept and the original T1 van
Like the concept, the preproduction ID. Buzz shows a lower grille area
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Like the concept, the preproduction ID. Buzz shows a lower grille area
Sneaking a peek at the VW ID. Buzz
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Sneaking a peek at the VW ID. Buzz
The headlights, of course, have been refined from the more conceptual set on the 2017 ID. Buzz concept
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The headlights, of course, have been refined from the more conceptual set on the 2017 ID. Buzz concept
Preproduction ID. Buzz testing in Hamburg
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Preproduction ID. Buzz testing in Hamburg
The ID. Buzz will first launch as a standard wheelbase, followed by a long wheelbase
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The ID. Buzz will first launch as a standard wheelbase, followed by a long wheelbase
Five years is long enough: VW will give us both the ID. Buzz passenger and cargo models at its world premiere event in March
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Five years is long enough: VW will give us both the ID. Buzz passenger and cargo models at its world premiere event in March
The ID. Buzz Cargo will soon be hard at work
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The ID. Buzz Cargo will soon be hard at work
The ID. Buzz passenger van will seat five people
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The ID. Buzz passenger van will seat five people
The ID. Buzz moves closer to its world premiere
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The ID. Buzz moves closer to its world premiere
ID. Buzz testing in Barcelona
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ID. Buzz testing in Barcelona
The coast was always a popular backdrop for the original VW Microbus, and it suits the ID. Buzz well, too
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The coast was always a popular backdrop for the original VW Microbus, and it suits the ID. Buzz well, too
Volkswagen will debut the ID. Buzz on March 9
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Volkswagen will debut the ID. Buzz on March 9
VW cruises through Barcelona with its preproduction ID. Buzz vans
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VW cruises through Barcelona with its preproduction ID. Buzz vans
An ID. Buzz fleet makes its way down the boulevard
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An ID. Buzz fleet makes its way down the boulevard
VW ID. Buzz in London
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VW ID. Buzz in London
VW ID. Buzz in Paris
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VW ID. Buzz in Paris
The VW ID. Buzz will launch with a 201-hp rear electric drive
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The VW ID. Buzz will launch with a 201-hp rear electric drive
View gallery - 19 images

Time flies. It's been over five years since Volkswagen jumpstarted the young, barely-awake year of 2017 with the debut of the ID. Buzz concept, a 21st century all-electric spiritual successor to the T1 and T2 Microbuses beloved across the world by everyone from original hippies to modern-day digital nomads. Since then, VW has very slowly and methodically developed the ID. Buzz, giving it the official green light, showing additional concept versions, exploring autonomous capabilities and ultimately getting it ready for a 2022 introduction that will happen in just a few weeks. In fact, Volkswagen will reveal not just a single ID. Buzz but both passenger and cargo versions ahead of launching the van in Europe and bringing it back to the United States.

Volkswagen is currently performing the final road tests on lightly (but brightly) camouflaged preproduction ID. Buzz vans across Europe. It will host its double-premiere on March 9, revealing both the five-seat ID. Buzz passenger van and the three-seat ID. Buzz Cargo.

The standard 2,988-mm-wheelbase (118-in) ID. Buzz models that will debut first are well shorter than current Volkswagen midsize vans, measuring in at 4,712 mm (185.5-in) long, which is 261 mm (10.3 in) shorter than the 4,973-mm-long (196-in) standard-wheelbase T7 Multivan, 192 mm (7.6 in) shorter than the 4,904-mm-long (193-in) standard-wheelbase T6.1, and shorter, even, than the 4,853-mm (191-in) long-wheelbase Caddy Maxi small van.

The ID. Buzz shows a little bit of nose, but designers strived to maintain a look true to the concept and the original T1 van
The ID. Buzz shows a little bit of nose, but designers strived to maintain a look true to the concept and the original T1 van

The ID. Buzz passenger van has 1,937 mm (76.3 in) of height to go along with that length and 1,985 mm (78.1 in) of width, making it 33 mm (1.3 in) lower and 81 mm (3.2 in) wider than the T6.1. The Buzz Cargo has the same width but stands 1 millimeter taller owing to chassis differences. Wheel options will include big, ol' 18- to 21-inchers.

Volkswagen boasts that it's able to make the most out of the shorter footprint with help from its MEB architecture, installing a comparably sized interior in a van that's easier to maneuver and park. The passenger version will offer more than 1.1 cu m (39 cu ft) of cargo space with all seats occupied, while the more capacious partitioned-off load area of the ID. Buzz Cargo will up the ante to 3.9 cu m (137.7 cu ft).

The ID. Buzz passenger van will seat five people
The ID. Buzz passenger van will seat five people

Like the original VW Microbuses, the ID. Buzz comes powered at the rear. With electricity flowing from the 82-kWh battery pack, the rear axle-integrated electric motor puts out up to 201 hp (150 kW) and 229 lb-ft (310 Nm) of torque. Volkswagen says that top speed will be electronically limited to 90 mph (145 km/h) and points out that range estimates are not yet available.

Styling-wise, our eyes are still kept in check by the colorful full-body wrap, but Volkswagen promises that its design team worked hard to stay true not only to the 2017 Buzz concept car but also to the T1 that inspired it. That work included keeping the overhangs short, dividing the body into clearly delineated upper and lower sections, which we suspect will be painted individual colors, and maintaining a V-shaped face.

The ID. Buzz also shows a similar short, barely-there front-end. The front and rear lighting have gotten more traditional designs in preparation for production, and certain elements like the windshield-hood transition and lower grille lip are more crisp-edged and pronounced than on the curvaceous concept. We'll see how it all comes together when they rip the rainbows off.

Like the concept, the preproduction ID. Buzz shows a lower grille area
Like the concept, the preproduction ID. Buzz shows a lower grille area

Like other recent EV debuts, including the Ford F-150 Lightning and Chevy Silverado EV, the ID. Buzz will offer bidirectional charging capabilities so that it can both charge from the owner's home and feed power back. Volkswagen uses the example of storing energy from roof-mounted solar panels during the day and supplying it to the home at night.

Volkswagen's e-bus won't launch with the type of full-blown autonomy the concept previewed, but it will include technologies like Car2X communications, a trained parking feature for self-maneuvering into and out of parking spaces, and the newest version of VW's "Travel Assist" adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping. Over-the-air updates will evolve its capabilities over time and keep its tech up to date.

An ID. Buzz fleet makes its way down the boulevard
An ID. Buzz fleet makes its way down the boulevard

Volkswagen plans to begin ID. Buzz production in the first half of 2022, launching the van in Europe in September. Additional variants, including the long-wheelbase model that will be sold in the US, will be added thereafter. And those models will include a confirmed ID. California camper van version.

We'll have the full package of details on March 9.

Source: Volkswagen

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8 comments
8 comments
DavidB
Nope. Definitely not the reborn VW bus I was hoping for. It seems shaped more like an old Chrysler Town & Country, to me.
Username
What is the point of comparing size with the T.6 and T.7. Most people interested in this vehicle would find a comparison with the T1 and T2 more relevant. Looking forward to what Westfalia will do with it.
vince
Not a reborn microbus because it's a 5 seater and not an 8 seater like the original bus. It's been said that the American version will have an extended bed and room for 6 or 7 seats depending on selection. But I'll believe that when I see it I don't trust VW to be honest. A 5 seat minivan in America is a non-starter and won't sell. People would rather just buy an SUV than buy a 5 seat 'mini bus'.
paul314
I wonder whether one important plus will be the added mass of the battery pack, so that the thing doesn't get blown all over the highway like the original buses did.
MarkGovers
Home, home on the RANGE, where model 3s, Xs, and Ss roam. I want one of these, but need not the keys, if not able to leave far from home.
Uglier
How does its size and price compare to the ID.4? Sounds like the powertrain is identical.
ljaques
Y'know, if that weren't made by VW, it might be a decent little van.
epochdesign
What a bunch of bologna! Definitely not true to the T1 or T2. This is all buzz and hype wrapped in another phony rekindling of what made VW, VW.
The T1/T2 were affordable, utilitarian, aesthetically unique, reliable. The new buzz will be none of these things.
Hyping up a vehicle to artificially create a following is not the same as designing/building a great vehicle that garnishes a following and legacy. I've owned 5 VW's over the years but my late 2003 Passat Wagon (which I loved) will likely be my last. I've tried to like the new VW's but there are just too many basic design elements being missed on every new VW I've test-driven in the last 9 years. Not to mention they all look like last years Camry (no offence Toyota). I'm not exactly sure what's going on over there at VW, but being in the design business for over 35 years, it seems to me that there is a serious disconnect between the design staff at VW and the people who buy their vehicles.