The Volkswagen ID Buzz concept, unveiled at the Detroit motor show, previews a retro-styled but technically advanced four-wheel-drive electric MPV that is tentatively planned to go on sale in 2022.
Although the ID Buzz draws heavily on the Microbus first launched in 1950 for stylistic inspiration, it uses a new electric car architecture that helps to maximise cabin space. The tall, one-box concept has seating for up to eight people.
The ID Buzz is part of a multimodel electric car initiative masterminded by VW boss Herbert Diess, who is aiming to thrust the company to the front of the electric car ranks in the next decade, following the financially crippling effects of the Dieselgate scandal.
The ID Buzz is the second of five dedicated electric models being developed by VW and follows the four-seat ID hatchback revealed at last year’s Paris motor show. VW’s next electric concepts are expected to be a crossover-style SUV, saloon and possibly a sports car.
Diess said: “The Volkswagen brand’s big electric offensive begins in the year 2020 with a completely new vehicle architecture. That is when we will be launching a new generation of fully connected, all-electric vehicles on the market. By 2025, we want to be selling one million of these vehicles annually. We are making electric mobility the new trademark of Volkswagen.”
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The ID Buzz features two electric motors — one mounted within the short nose section and one within the rear axle assembly. This provides it with four-wheel drive capability, unlike the exclusively rear-wheel-drive ID hatchback, which features a single electric motor at the rear.
Each electric motor delivers a maximum of 201bhp, but the combined system output is pegged to 369bhp — sufficient, VW claims, to provide its latest concept with a theoretical 0-62mph time of just 5.0sec. To protect battery charge, the top speed is limited to 100mph.
VW says the ID Buzz could also be configured as a rear-drive model with a 268bhp rear-mounted electric motor.
Fitted with a 111kWh lithium-ion battery mounted in the floor, the new model is claimed to have a zero-emissions range of up to 372 miles on the European test cycle — 41 miles more than VW claimed for the similarly conceived Budd-e concept. Shown at CES last year, the Budd-e used a 95kWh lithium-ion battery.
The battery can be charged to 80% in 30 minutes — enough for a range of up to 298 miles.
The ID Buzz also features the latest in autonomous driving technology, allowing the driver to retract the touch-pad-equipped steering wheel and make use of a seat that swivels 180deg to face the rear, in what is described as “noncritical driving conditions”, in a so-called ID Pilot mode that is being developed for introduction in 2025.
In this mode, the steering wheel is decoupled from the steering gear via a newly developed steering column system. A series of laser scanners, ultrasonic sensors, radar sensors, area view camera and front camera acquire information about the surroundings, while other traffic data is received via an internet-enabled data cloud, providing the ID Buzz with fully autonomous driving capability.
The interior has a multitude of different seating layouts, and there are two separate luggage compartments, one up front and one at the rear.
The ID Buzz is 4941mm long, 1976mm wide and 1963mm tall. That makes it 344mm longer, 36mm wider and 128mm taller than the Budd-e concept.
It rides on a lengthened version of VW’s new MED platform, originally unveiled underneath the ID hatchback, and has a lengthy, 3300mm wheelbase and comparatively short overhangs of 829mm up front and 812mm at the rear.
A business case for the ID Buzz to be put into production will need to be signed off by VW's board, but the company's management is fully behind the concept. If dealers and the car-buying public show similar enthusiasm, it seems likely to gain approval.