VW Sets 2022 Return for Minivan Based on I.D. Buzz Concept
Volkswagen didn’t make it back to Haight-Ashbury, but 50 years after the Summer of Love they came to Northern California to announce plans to bring back a completely new version of the iconic Microbus. Based on the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept, which was first seen in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the reborn van will be all-electric, connected and capable of full autonomy.
In a shift from the old Microbus, it appears that VW will be placing a big emphasis on potential commercial uses of the I.D. Buzz. Its ability to cruise in spreading zero-emission zones in city centers should give it an advantage. There is also speculation (which comes when you announce a new product five years ahead of its on-sale date) that the commercial version could feature a smaller battery pack than the 111-kWh one expected to power the I.D. Buzz. That would increase the potential payload of the vehicle.
The commercial use highlights the versatile nature of this midsize-car sized van. The concept sits on a 129.9-inch wheelbase, but has extremely short overhangs so the functional interior space is huge. In passenger mode the I.D. Buzz can haul eight passengers and luggage. With an eye to autonomous operation (which should be relatively common in 2022) the interior is designed with front swivel chairs that could be turned around to create a conversation pit with rear passengers.
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Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, introducing the concept at the Pebble Beach Concours today, said: “The next generation of cars will be fully electric,” but he
emphasize that VW would continue to focus on the emotional side of the vehicle, even as it becomes electric, connected and autonomous. He said the public response to the I.D. Buzz concept, which prompted Volkswagen to commit to its production, justifies the company’s design approach.
When it hits the market the I.D. Buzz will have more than 250 miles of range, Diess announced, using a skateboard-style battery pack that fills the floor underneath the interior and between the axles. The concept version packed two e-Golf-derived electric motors with a combined 369 horsepower, but it’s not clear what the final production version’s number will end up at.
The I.D. Buzz will not be the first of VW’s new generation of electric vehicles. A sedan version called the I.D. will debut in late 2019 or 2020. Deiss said the company’s goal is to be selling one million vehicles based on the new MEB (Modular Electric Drive) platform that will provide the basis for a variety of different vehicles.
VW has said it will launch in North American, European and Chinese market with Level 3 full autonomy, which means it will still need a driver, but will be capable of extensive operation on its own. This will be the seventh generation of the VW Bus/Transporter, which first debuted in 1950.