The VW Microbus or Kombi (Type 2) became emblematic of freedom and the global counterculture movements of the 1960s and 70s. It served generations of young people through the transition from the “road trip” lifestyle to having kids.
VW wants to recapture the spirit of the Kombi (or, Microbus in the US) with the I.D. Buzz, one of its latest electric vehicles.
Scheduled to enter production by 2022, the I.D. Buzz has won several awards at auto shows and earned the blessing of Pon’s son. Let’s look at how the VW I.D. Buzz will revolutionize the electric vehicle market.
Updating Everybody’s Favourite Classic
Back in 1950, the VW Microbus boasted all of 30 hp. It was low-tech and low-power, but people loved it. The concept felt roomy and fun, and the vehicle proved affordable. A faithful following of loyal VW bus drivers soon emerged.
While the VW Kombi’s design represents a quirky homage to the past, there’s nothing low-tech or low-power about this reinvented version of everybody’s favourite van.
The I.D. Buzz boasts a 111 kWh battery pack in the floor of the MEB chassis and packs 369 hp driven by electric motors sitting on each axle. It features all-wheel drive and will have an estimated EV range of between 500 to 600 kilometres.
Becoming the Electric Age’s Iconic Vehicle Manufacturer
The MEB chassis refers to the VW’s Modular Electric Drive kit, which will be used in all of VW’s forays into the electric vehicle world including the I.D. Crozz, VW’s take on an electric SUV, and the I.D. Vizzion, a sleek stunner set to compete with Tesla.
What’s more, at fast charge stations (like the 17 recently installed along the coast of Queensland), they’ll prove capable of recharging to 80 per cent of their energy capacity in a half hour.
According to Dr Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management for the Volkswagen brand, VW won’t stop until the automobile manufacturer has secured its position as the iconic vehicle maker of the electric age.
In other words, an electric vehicle for the masses.
Modern, Timeless Design Elements and Cutting-Edge Innovations
While Diess’s outline of Volkswagen’s goals heading into the electric age might seem ambitious, the I.D. Buzz remains a potent part of the plan.
Not only is it set to make VW a major contender in the zero-emissions market, but it has lessons to teach other automakers, too.
The second electric vehicle concept that has been released for production by VW, the company has outdone itself when it comes to added features at an accessible price point.
With 55.88-centimetre wheels and net-zero body overhangs, the I.D. Buzz maintains clean, crisp lines and modern, timeless design features.
Blazing into the Zero-Emissions Future
While its two-toned paint job and front V hearken back to the Type 2, the bus that started it all, nothing about the vehicle mimics the past. The I.D. Buzz gives off a unique visual signature with a light strip that surrounds the bus.
Its LED headlights communicate the vehicle’s status using hexagonal segments acting as “eyes.” And it provides lots of room for a variety of activities from camping out in your vehicle to transporting cargo and materials.
It boasts the front trunk of the original VW Beetle and provides ample space for people and things alike.
The Road to Autonomous Driving
The I.D. Buzz is also making headlines for its inclusion of autonomous technology in the 2020 model. The fully automated version of this “I.D. Pilot” mode may be in production as early as 2025.
VW hints at this with the I.D. Buzz’s pop-up laser scanners, fold-away steering wheel, and pop-up laser scanners located in the roof for Level 3 autonomous driving. It also boasts an augmented reality heads-up display.
But VW makers aren’t stopping there. At the 2018 Hannover Commercial Vehicle Show, they released the I.D. Buzz Cargo concept, a vehicle set to handle a variety of work-related and unique transportation needs.
The I.D. Buzz Cargo
Measuring 1,976mm wide, 5,048mm long, and 1,963mm tall, the I.D. Buzz Cargo boasts a maximum payload of 800 kilograms and rides on the same MEB electric architecture as VW’s other electric vehicles.
The Buzz Cargo features a 201hp electric motor and is rear-wheel drive although. But all-wheel-drive models will also be available with a second motor at the front. (This feature will also come standard with the regular I.D. Buzz.)
The Cargo comes with a lithium-ion battery pack with a capacity of 48kWh. But it can be upgraded to the 110kWh like the I.D. Buzz.
It boasts an EV range of 322 to 547 kilometres depending on the battery size and also gets an 80 per cent charge in 30 minutes. But that’s where the differences between the I.D. Buzz and the I.D. Buzz Cargo End.
A Utility Electric Vehicle Like None Other
In the Buzz Cargo, gone are the I.D. Buzz’s side windows.
The interior features a unique three-passenger setup with a single driver’s seat and bench for passengers. The bench accommodates two people on the passenger’s side and folds down for maximum utility.
The driver’s seat can swivel 15 degrees to the right when stopped or operated in autonomous mode. The rear doors are wide-opening cargo doors, and it sits on utilitarian 50.8-centimetre wheels rather than the I.D. Buzz’s 55.88-centimetre wheels.
Benefits of the I.D. Buzz and the I.D. Buzz Cargo
Because the batteries will sit so low on the floor of each vehicle model, passengers will prove delighted by the spaciousness of each bus.
The electric powertrain is hugely reduced in size from its gas-guzzling predecessors. In fact, it will measure just five metres long, which equates to unprecedented space for people, boxes, tools, and other objects alike.
What’s more, each of these new models represents a fully electric vehicle, which means zero emissions.
At a time when the planet clearly evidences the dramatic beginnings of climate change, it’s crucial that CO2 levels get reduced. Dramatically. Volkswagen has taken up this imperative while still keeping its customers in mind.
VW Hybrid Vehicles
Currently, VW offers the Golf GTE, an innovation in automotive engineering. It proves stylish and comfortable and boasts the performance and handling of a sports car. But at the touch of a button, you can switch into fully electric, GTE mode.
VW is also developing a plug-in, petrol-electric hybrid that’s a serious stunner. The T-Prime concept car represents the next generation of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs). Instead of buttons, it’s powered through voice and gesture controls.
It also features an interactive touchscreen. The hybrid engine combines a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor producing 100kW and 350Nm.
Other VW Electric Vehicles to Watch Out For
Beginning in 2020, Volkswagen will also start releasing its I.D. line of vehicles, a compact class of fully electric vehicles featuring a personalized driving experience and semi-autonomous features.
The I.D. is being compared to the VW Beetle and the VW Golf because of its compact design. VW is wagering on this car as the future of the company.
Powered by a 125 kW (170 PS) electric motor, it can go the distance at 600 kilometres between charges.
VW’s newest take on the Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV), the I.D. Crozz proves interactive and sporty. It produces zero emissions and has an EV range of 500 kilometres, which means less EV range anxiety for drivers.
Its battery has the same charge time as the I.D. Buzz and Buzz Cargo.
VW’s Ambitious Goals Will Redefine the Electric Vehicle World
Unlike other car manufacturers such as Tesla who are only now beginning to dabble in affordable vehicles, VW won’t accept anything less than the ability to mass-produce affordable electric cars and buses.
They have invested heavily in e-Mobility technology in a bid to make alternative driving technologies a reality for everyday people. This could prove a huge boost to Australia’s EV industry, which has seen lagging sales numbers in recent years.
Despite the expansion of EV infrastructure such as the Queensland electric superhighway, many Australians remain averse to owning an electric vehicle.
- High prices
- Unattractive appearances
- Lack of power
- Lack of EV range
- Few tax incentives for purchasing electric vehicles
But Volkswagen is working hard to make electric vehicles an attractive, attainable proposition with its line of I.D. models. And the Volkswagen electric car I.D. Buzz might just prove the most exciting innovation yet.
It combines the vintage appeal of the VW Kombi with all of the bells and whistles, including autonomous driving technology. What’s more, the I.D. Buzz Cargo version takes utility vehicles to the next level with loads of personalized features.
The Latest Electric Vehicles from Volkswagen
Are you interested in learning more about the latest electric vehicles from makers such as Volkswagen? Or, maybe you have questions about electric vehicles and which one’s right for you and your needs?
Learn more about the newest green technologies and what Australia needs to do to aggressively combat global warming.
Image By Matti Blume – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62464686