The Future is Now
When the Volkswagen group announced it was bringing back the VW bus as part of its commitment to electric vehicles in 2019, there was plenty of American skepticism to go around. Most of the public was unsure of how well the application might do for larger SUVs. So, Volkswagen produced a few for the folks in Europe and waited for Americans to catch up. They waited and waited. And then, waited, some more. Over the last few years, the technology has improved, increasing both battery life and range, and the electrification of the automotive world has begun to solidify the acceptance of replacing gasoline powered vehicles with electrically charged battery operated ones.
Now, VW has determined that the time is right for their new ID (which stands for “intelligent design”) and Buzz (meaning electrified) to be released in the North American market. The new bus is expected to be made at a couple of US plants, and is due to launch into dealer showrooms during the summer of 2024. From the initial looks of it, the ID buzz is a long wheelbase vehicle with plenty of cargo area, larger battery, and even an all wheel drive version.
The look has a definite nostalgic vibe to it, complete with flower power colors like Energetic Orange, Mahi Green or even Pomelo Yellow and enough room for three rows and seven adults. (At least, VW agrees with most deadheads that the one thing the world needs is more color. Love first, vibrant colors second, please).
The Sound of Silence is Powerful
The new bus will be powered by one of two powerplants, a single motor producing 282 hp (which comes on rear-wheel drive models), and a double motor all-wheel drive model that peaks at just over 330 hp. (More power than the shorter wheelbase in Europe). The Buzz won’t win any street races, with its top speed around the 90 - 95 mph, but its got plenty of electric umph to move a full load of passengers and cargo down the road.
VW is using its “modular electric” (MEB) skateboard platform, which they have been perfecting for some years. (Primarily, the concept is designed to consolidate the number of microprocessors, use stronger magnets, and reinforce heat management to keep the electric battery components operating efficiently). The rub about lithium-ion batteries is that heat can create all kinds of issues if not managed. With more space, the battery pack can lay beneath the floor, making the vehicle’s ability to move down the roadway much more manageable. (The European version of the Buzz is powered by an 82Kw lithium-ion battery pack, but it is shorter in wheelbase. We expect the American version to have a heftier battery producing more power since it will be the larger van).
While range estimates haven’t been released, if any of the current vehicles equipped with the MEB platform are an indication, the range should be around 300 miles, (which puts it on the same pace as a Tesla Y, or large EV). Estimates are that the Buzz will charge from 10% - 80% in around thirty-five minutes assuming that you can find a rapid charger somewhere. (Now that Tesla has agreed to make their stations universally capable of charging other EVs, the search should be easier).
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”
The Euorpean version of the ID Buzz has been in production since 2022, but it is a short wheelbase, five-seater without a third row. The truth is that those versions aren’t very practical for the modern American family. (The Europe version is a cramped, but the US model is about the size of the VW Atlas). Early specs indicate that the US model is planned to have an almost 10-inch longer wheelbase (127.5 inch). The VW bus’s added length increases the room for larger windows, more gear and increased passenger comfort, especially for those siting on the third row.
The front fascia is where the homage to VW former van is most evident, with its two tone paint options and large Volkswagen id centered smack in the middle. Although the windshield tends to slope back more than the 60s version, there is the same squat nosed front, only with modern more squinted headlights and a sizable color coordinated bottom grille designed to suck air to help keep the pwerpak cooled.
Electric sliding doors on either side of a vehicle are common now, (the 60s van had doors only on one side). A rear tailgate raises easily. (Don’t fret the volkswagen id is here, too). VW already makes a camping extension option that coverts the VW to a cozy little sleeping quarters, which should excite the outdoor hippie in all of us.
The Interior Gives Plenty Of Satisifaction
Even though the Rolling Stones couldn’t “get no satisfaction”, there are plenty of conveniences for the modern ID Buzz owner to love. While the van does seat seven, there is an option for second row Captain’s chairs which are the way to go (trust us, it’s better - though it cuts the eating down to six). All the trims have non-leather fabrics made with recycled materials, and there are plenty of storage compartments in every nook and cranny for necessities. VW continues the tradition of offering a wide option of color interior and ambient lighting choices, which should make even a crusty Rocker like Mick Jaegar happy.
Standard features on the US lwb version are heated front heated, ventilated and massaging seats as standard equipment (the second row seats are heated). The second bench seat is split 60/40 and the third fow can fold down in half or be completely removed for additional storage space. Any boomer will love the versatility, whether it conjures up memories of surf boards, or just provides enough space for the great grandkids.
While the production version has yet to be made, most expect the VW ID Buzz to be quipped with all the amenities you’d expect from a vehicle, including a 12.5 inch infotainment system, wireless charging station, bluetooth connectivity, eight USB c ports scattered through the van, and a handy 110V outlet in the rear for tailgating or other uses.
Safety features include a host of driver’s assistance programs like lane keeping assist, rear parking sensors, blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control, and front collision assist. Any owner will be happy to know that the VW Buzz can stop in the name of love when it’s needs to do so. (Pun intended).
What Is the Price?
Well, even though the US model has yet to be released in America (the van won’t hit US dealerships until June of next year), most estimates indicate that the MSRP will begin in the mid-fifties. While some options, like second row Captain’s chairs will cost more, here’s hoping that VW will just “Let it Be” and not nickel and dime the public for options. VW knows that it will have to price the Buzz approropriately to win over what could still be considered a skeptical public market. (One item that might help is if the VW ID Buzz would qualify for the IRS EV tax-credit, but unfortunately, as of yet, it does not).