Volkswagen is looking to become the world leader when it comes to electric cars, and now electric buses. The German automaker is planning to sell 22 million electric cars over the next decade across all off its many brands. If you don’t know, The VW Group owns Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, Škoda, and of course, Volkswagen. With so many electric cars planned, Volkswagen is sure to cover every body style and size imaginable with an electric vehicle. This includes a VW electric microbus, tentatively known as the Volkswagen ID BUZZ, which takes inspiration from the company’s iconic Type 2 microbus design. Here is everything we know so far bout the 2020 VW electric bus.
VW TYPE 2 HISTORY
Before we look at the VW electric bus, let’s look at the original VW bus that started it all. The first generation of the Type 2 was first produced in 1949. It was named the Type 2 as it was the second vehicle that Volkswagen had produced at that time, the first being the equally iconic Beetle (Type 1). The first (and most recognizable) generation of the VW Microbus was produced until 1967 in Europe and the US and until 1975 in Brazil. While its intended purpose was to serve as a utilitarian transport/cargo van, the Type 2 had become a symbol of the 1960s counterculture movement in the US. Dubbed by some as the “hippie van,” the Type 2 became very popular with those looking to “stick it to the man”. The simplicity of the body and engine made it easy to fix and its spacious interior allowed large groups to travel together and even live inside of it. As such, the Type 2 is now one of the most recognizable vehicles in history. It holds a special place in the hearts of people that lived through those times and is idealized by those who wish they could have experienced those times for themselves. There’s also nothing comparable to it on the market today. One could argue the need for it in our current segment lineup.
The iconic VW Microbus would continue to go through model refreshes and is currently on its sixth generation, none of which have seemed to capture the magic of the original. Now the company is looking to bring some of its history back with an electric VW bus.
VW ID BUZZ
With that history out of the way, we’ve come to a VW electric bus, the VW ID BUZZ. The 2020 VW bus made its debut as a prototype during the North American International Auto Show in January 2019. At the time, it was not stated if the electric bus would make its way into production. The VW ID BUZZ was received with much fanfare due to its fun aesthetics and the fact that it was a re-imagining of the iconic Type 2. After such a large audience was built and a “large number of letters and emails from customers who said, ‘please build this car,’” Volkswagen announced its intention to bring the ID BUZZ into production eight months later (it probably also helped that VW Boss, Dr. Hebert Diess, considers the car, “the most beautiful and most exciting electric car in the world”). The VW electric bus will join the first wave of Volkswagen electric cars which include the ID.3, ID CROZZ, ID VIZZION, and many others as the company transitions towards electrification.
The new VW electric bus more or less retains the shape of its original gasoline-powered ancestor. As of right now, the VW ID BUZZ dimensions are as followed: 4.94m Length x 1.97m Width x 1.96 Height (16.2’x6.46’x6.43’). Compared to the original Type 2, it is significantly longer and slightly wider, but retains practically the same height. The dimensions of the generation 1 VW Type 2 were: 4.2m Length x 1.72m Width x 1.94m Height (13.77’x5.64’x6.36’). In addition to the similar proportions, the company adopted some of the design features of the original such as the two-tone V-nose, rectangular windows, and rear side air vents in it’s new, refreshed VW electric bus.
In terms of performance and the VW ID BUZZ specs, there will be two different powertrain configurations for the Volkswagen electric bus: an all-wheel-drive version with a 111 kWh battery that will make 369 hp, and a rear-wheel-drive version which has an 83 kWh battery that will make 268 hp. Volkswagen claims that the higher spec’d version will be able to reach a 0-60 mph time in about 5 seconds and will feature a top speed of 99 mph.
In autonomy, the VW ID BUZZ is looking to offer Level 3 autonomous driving upon release. However, with the release date being so far away, we can only imagine where the progress with autonomous driving will be at that point. Volkswagen anticipates full Level 5 autonomy to become a reality around 2025 for their vehicles.
Of the currently planned Volkswagen electric cars, the ID BUZZ has by far garnered the most attention from enthusiasts and people within VW. The automaker seems to be very keen in making sure that everything goes right with this VW all-electric bus. On top of calling it the “most exciting” electric car, Dr. Diess has on multiple occasions emphasized the importance of offering an “emotional” car when referencing the VW ID BUZZ.
“Emotional cars are very important for the brand. We are selling loads of Beetles still, particularly in U.S. markets. But we will also have the Microbus that we showed, which we have recently decided we will build.”
“We would like to bring this back because it fits so well to what the brand stands for: it’s emotional, it has functionality, it makes your life easier.”
You can also turn to their most recent redemption-toned commercial where VW tries to convey that it has turned over a new leaf after the dieselgate scandal and is now all-in when it comes to electric cars.
Was the electric car featured in the commercial the mass-produced ID.3, which is set to go into production at the end of this year? No, the car under the spotlight was the VW electric bus, the ID BUZZ, a vehicle that is, at the very least, three years away and not even in a production form. Clearly, Volkswagen is looking for the VW ID BUZZ to be the electric microbus that will finally capture the magic of the original decades ago.
VW ID BUZZ INTERIOR
The VW ID BUZZ interior is just as groovy and interesting as the exterior. The cabin can seat up to eight people and uses a rail system that will offer a lot of flexibility in terms of seating configuration. Seats can be swiveled around, folded into tables, or completely folded into the floor to have the maximum amount of space. Thanks to electric cars being able to stow the battery and motors below the seats, you can have even more interior room thanks to there not being space allocated for the engine. This gives endless possibilities in terms of trims and options. We could even see a VW electric camper van conversion on the horizon.
The dashboard is very minimalist with an oddly shaped steering wheel taking center stage. When/if the ID BUZZ comes with autonomous features, the driver will be able to press the big VW logo in the center of the steering wheel which will enable autonomous driving and the steering wheel will retract into the dashboard itself. At that point, the front seats can swivel around to face the passengers in the back.
This VW electric bus truly is the closest you will get to a “living room on wheels” (outside of a dedicated camper), and I hope that the rail system will make its way into the production model.
VW ID BUZZ RANGE
Depending on the battery pack, the VW ID BUZZ range will be about 200-270 miles. The higher tiered 111 kWh battery version will have an estimated EPA rated range of 270 miles. The VW ID Buzz range will be close to 200 miles on the 83 kW battery option. As of the writing of this article, there are no other electric microbuses to compare to. The closest comparison we could make is the Rivian R1S and R1T which are other big electric vehicles slated to be released around the same time. The two VW electric buses will have a range of anywhere from 230-410 miles depending on the battery configuration. While 270 miles does place the VW ID Buzz range in acceptable figures, given that an electric microbus’ envisioned use is for road trips, I wonder if the range will be bumped up over the next three years. As of right now, Volkswagen is saying that the ID BUZZ will have a charging rate of 150 kW, meaning a 0-80% charge will take 30 minutes. If you’re envisioning a cross country road trip, you are going to have a lot of stops. Although there are few cars, if any, I would imagine are more comfortable to wait around in.
VW ID BUZZ PRICE
As of right now, the VW ID BUZZ price is to be determined. With the electric microbus so far out, we will not be seeing a concrete price for a while. Although, we can speculate based on the pricing of the ID.3. The cheapest ID.3 is slated to start at “under €30,000” (about $33,000). The current cheapest VW Golf in Germany starts at €21,365 (about $24,000). This represents a roughly 38% increase in price (this is not completely accurate due to their not being a final price on the ID.3 yet). The current cheapest VW microbus (that’s not a transport version) in Germany starts at €37,818 (about $42,500). If we apply a 38% increase to the price, we get €52,188 (about $65,000). This is a very rough estimate, but we should expect to see the ID BUZZ at no lower than $60,000, especially if it manages to incorporate autonomous driving features. With the given hype and entry into a new market, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw the VW electric bus price hit six figures.
VW ID BUZZ RELEASE DATE
At this point, the VW ID BUZZ release date is slated to be sometime in 2022. The current electric microbus we see is a hand-built prototype so it still has a long way to go before it enters production. The further you plan for the future, the less accurate the dates, specs, and pricing can be, so the 2022 VW electric bus release date could be subject to change. Hopefully sooner than later but I’m going in with no expectations.
As of January 2021, it seems that Volkswagen is still targetting a 2022 release date for the ID BUZZ, but might delay to 2023 in the US. Volkswagen went through with a huge order for manufacturing robots to outfit their current factories which will be producing their electric cars in the future. The press release read:
The Volkswagen Passenger Cars and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brands are working flat out on the transformation to the e-mobility era and the conversion of plants to e-mobility. The Volkswagen brand has now ordered more than 1,400 robots from Japanese manufacturer FANUC for its production facilities at Chattanooga (USA) and Emden. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has ordered a further 800 robots for its Hanover plant from ABB of Switzerland. The robots are to be mainly used for body production and battery assembly. The three plants are currently being prepared for the production of electric cars using highly advanced facilities. From 2022, the ID.4 is to be produced at Chattanooga (USA) and Emden, while the model known under the show car name of ID. BUZZ2 is to roll off the production line at Hanover.
A more recent interview with Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh showed that the CEO did not anticipate the ID BUZZ making it to American roads by 2022 stating, “I wish it was coming next year. It’s not going to come quite as soon as that; it’s going to be a little bit later than that.” Keogh also stated that the reaction to the ID BUZZ has been great, so it’s not for a lack of demand, Volkswagen just needs to get their production in order. So at this point, a US release is looking to be in 2023 whilst a European release of 2022 looks to maybe still be in play.
VW ELECTRIC VAN
In an effort to fulfill a utilitarian purpose as well as an “emotional” one, Volkswagen has shown off a Volkswagen ID BUZZ CARGO, a Volkswagen electric van. This version of the VW electric microbus is built to serve as a cargo van. Some of the differences from the regular ID BUZZ include: a four-inch longer body, solar panels on the roof that add about 9 miles of range a day, no sliding doors, and 240-volt power outlets for power tools. The ID BUZZ CARGO features the same 111 kWh battery, but only has a single 201 hp motor for the rear wheels. The Volkswagen electric van range is estimated at 340 miles based on the WLTP cycle. Volkswagen states that the electric cargo van could launch in Europe as soon as 2022 and are still undecided about bringing it to the United States. The Volkswagen electric van price has also never been mentioned and it could go either direction as a commercial vehicle.
VW CHARGING STATIONS
While there are no official VW charging stations, Electrify America stations can be seen as the de-facto charging stations for Volkswagen vehicles since the company itself built them. By the end of 2019, Electrify America looks to have over 2,000 fast chargers at almost 500 locations nationwide. Each planned site will be no further than 120 miles from one another. Additionally, Electrify America chargers can go up to 350 kW, meaning that if the VW ID BUZZ will end up supporting charging rates that high, a 0-80% charge can be done in as little as 15 minutes. Of course, you don’t need a specific Volkswagen charging station to charge the ID BUZZ. It will most likely come with a CCS plug that will enable it to charge at basically any charger that isn’t a Tesla Supercharger. According to the Department of Energy, there are currently 18,956 charging stations in the US which feature CCS plugs, and that number will only continue to grow.
VW SELF DRIVING TECHNOLOGY
At this point, electrification and autonomous technology are going hand in hand. Any sort of future electric car is almost expected to have a level of autonomy included upon release. We already said the interior of the ID BUZZ is prepared to accommodate fully autonomous driving with features like their retracting steering wheel and swiveling front seats. In regards to Volkswagen’s current level of autonomous technology, the German company is opting to use technology from autonomous driving startup Argo AI instead of trying to develop their own software like Tesla has. The automaker made an investment valued at $2.6 billion, with $1 billion in cash and control of VW’s European self-driving unit, complete with 200 employees, valued at $1.6 billion. As always, a decision like this must be weighted carefully, as Volkswagen does save on development costs, but might lose out on some flexibility and oversight on the system itself which might see delays or unforeseen problems when the autonomous systems are put into place in their future electric models. Nonetheless, Argo AI has been one of the better known autonomous driving startups and seems like a solid choice to provide autonomous features to Volkswagen’s future electric cars.
The Volkswagen ID BUZZ is sure to be a hit. It’s a family vehicle, a camper, a lifestyle, and even a work van when needed. Very few vehicles on the market today are as versatile as this electric bus and its endless options. Volkswagen themselves have shown great commitment towards electrification and this is just one of the many great electric vehicles that lie ahead. This could easily be one of the next electric cars to hit 10,000 sales per month. I’m just about ready to place my Volkswagen ID Buzz pre-order.
What is the name of the VW Electric Bus?
The current working name of the electric bus is the ID.BUZZ, however, VW is looking to adopt a numbered naming scheme with their ID line, where the bigger the car is, the larger the number. So expect the ID.BUZZ to become the ID.8 or ID.9. However, none of this is set in stone as of yet.
What is the price of the Volkswagen ID BUZZ?
Pricing has not been announced, however, if we apply the same price increase the ID.3 has over a regular Golf, then the ID.BUZZ will look to have a price of around $60,000. This, of course, is all conjecture at this point.
When is the Volkswagen ID BUZZ release date?
At this point, the VW ID BUZZ release date is slated to be some time in 2022, but the US release looks to be delayed to 2023.
What is the VW ID BUZZ Range?
Depending on what battery pack it comes with, the ID BUZZ can have a range of anywhere from 200 to 270 miles. However, given that it is still multiple years away, increases in battery technology could see that number go higher.
What does VW ID BUZZ stand for?
According to Volkswagen, the ID. “stands for intelligent design, identity and visionary technologies”.
What are the Dimensions of the Volkswagen ID BUZZ?
In its current prototype phase, the ID.BUZZ has the following dimensions: 4.94m Length x 1.97m Width x 1.96 Height (16.2’x6.46’x6.43’).