Volkswagen has announced that it will put its ID Buzz concept – an all-electric Microbus-inspired MPV capable of autonomous driving – into production. The MPV will go on sale in international markets in 2022.
The concept was first displayed at the 2017 Detroit motor show in January. The production version will be launched in Europe, the USA and China following strong public reaction. The decision was confirmed at the recent Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
Speaking at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California, Volkswagen CEO, Dr Herbert Diess, said: “After the presentations at the global motor shows, we received a large number of letters and emails from customers who said, 'please build this car'.”
“The Microbus has long been part of the California lifestyle. Now we're bringing it back by reinventing it as an electric vehicle.”
While the styling of the ID Buzz evokes the legendary 1949 Type 2 van, the machine is built around the latest technology on Volkswagen’s new all-electric architecture. It will also feature Level-3 autonomous driving capabilities, meaning it will be able to drive itself with human supervision.
The all-wheel-drive concept version is powered by two electric motors with an output of 150kW. One motor will be placed in the nose section while the other will be fitted on the rear axle, producing a total output of 374hp. Torque is distributed between the two motors through an ‘electric propshaft’, and it can hit 100kph from rest in less than 5sec. Top speed is limited to 160kph.
The ID Buzz has a battery charge capacity of 111kWh, giving it a range of around 430km. The batteries are built into the floor to maximise interior space. Volkswagen says the ID Buzz’s architecture would also allow it to be fitted with a 272hp rear-wheel-drive electric powertrain.
The ID Buzz has a wheelbase of 3,300mm and a turning circle of 10m. The concept’s variable interior – which is 4,922mm long - can seat up to eight people.
Volkswagen says the interior has been designed for maximum usability, with a rail-based flexible seating layout. The third row of seats can be converted into a bed, a nod to its Microbus inspiration.
As with the Type 2 that inspired it, a commercial version, the ID Buzz Cargo, will be produced by Volkswagen.
Diess said: “The vehicle looks like a compact commercial van on the outside, even though it offers the generous interior space of a large SUV.”
The ID Buzz concept features a touch-sensitive steering wheel, with an augmented reality head-up display and centre console tablet intended to replace much of the traditional driving instrumentation.
The ID Buzz will be capable of autonomous driving and will come fitted with VW’s ID Pilot autonomous driving system. The concept version features a steering wheel that retracts and decouples from the steering system when the ID Buzz is switched into its fully autonomous mode.
The concept doesn’t feature rear-view mirrors, but instead uses external cameras whose images are displayed on an ‘e-Mirror’ screen in the traditional location of the rear-view mirror. Again, it is unclear how much of this technology will make it to production versions of the ID Buzz.
The ID Buzz will form part of Volkswagen’s ‘Together-Strategy 2025’ plan, which involves the firm investing £7.5 billion (about Rs 62,000 crore) into developing more than 30 battery-powered models by 2025. The first new model from the firm will be the ID compact car.