The bus is back: VW ID Electric debuted

The bus is back: VW ID Electric debuted

We have been waiting for this moment since the Vanagon retired, but after over 30 years, and many unfulfilled hints at an earlier return, Volkswagen is finally bringing back its iconic Microbus as an all-new EV. These are the first official images of the production ID.Buzz.

Beyond the lack of a psychedelic disguise, much is obviously similar to the prototype version of the bus's cargo sister that we drove in Europe last month. Sitting on the same MEB platform that underpins the ID.4 and Audi Q4 e-tron has allowed Volkswagen's designers much freer rein than they would if they needed a tall, bulky combustion power plant. Like its EV sisters, the Buzz's battery pack is mounted beneath its floor, with an impressive percentage of its 185.5-inch length converted into usable interior space while still meeting modern impact safety standards on both sides of the Atlantic. (Crashworthiness was not exactly a strength of its air-cooled predecessors). 

The ID.Buzz you see here is the European-spec version, sitting on a 117.6-inch wheelbase. Volkswagen says this one won't be coming to the U.S. All American versions will be sitting on a slightly longer extended wheelbase and offering three-row seating. (Interestingly, in Europe, there will be a three-row option for the standard-wheelbase van in 2-2-2 configuration.) At 78.1 inches in width, the ID.Buzz is nearly six inches farther across than a T.3 Vanagon, while its 76.3-inch height makes it just a third of an inch less tall than a Cadillac Escalade.

There are other differences between the car you see here and the U.S. version beneath the skin. The regular-wheelbase ID.Buzz gets an 82.0-kWh battery pack, 77.0 kWh of which is usable, which will drive a 201-hp electric motor that powers the rear axle. C/D has been told the U.S.-market version will have a larger battery pack, although we don't have a capacity figure yet, and also that there will be the option of an all-wheel-driven ID.Buzz, which will use a second electric front motor.

While there is no official figure on the total power output of that version, the talk within Volkswagen is that we can expect it to make at least as much as the 295-hp all-wheel-drive ID.4. Volkswagen hasn't announced a range figure in Europe, although engineers told us when we drove the prototype that the company hopes for a 250-mile WLTP rating. We expect the U.S. version's larger battery will allow a similar figure under the more stringent EPA system.

American Buzz buyers will also miss the innovative option of vehicle-to-home charging that Volkswagen is planning for Europe, allowing the minibus to act as what is basically a power bank when connected to a compatible two-way wall box. In this way, owners will benefit from cheaper off-peak electricity tariffs for domestic use and vehicle charging. But our ID.Buzz will get the plug-and-charge technology that Volkswagen will soon roll out across its EVs, across its EVs, which lets a charging station soon recognize the Buzz as soon as it is plugged in. This means there'll be no need to fiddle with cards or apps to unlock the charger. It will support DC fast charging at speeds of up to 170 kW.

As the ID.Buzz prototype we drove had a heavily disguised interior. This is our first chance to see the finished cabin. It looks large, light, and airy thanks to both a sizable glasshouse and a multitude of storage compartments and oddment spaces, which will include a movable and removable center console between the front seats. Top-spec cars will be available with luxury features rarely offered on vans, even ones wearing windows, such as power-operated seats featuring a massage function and adjustable ambient lighting. There will be 10 standard colors, and 30 with an optional extended palette. Digital instruments are standard; the European ID.Buzz gets either 10-inch or 12-inch touchscreen displays, depending on trim level. We hope VW fits a smarter UI system than the dull-witted one currently offered on the ID.4.

The new ID.Buzz will be produced in the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles plant in Hannover, Germany, where both passenger and (Euro market) cargo versions will be built alongside each other.

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