A VW electric microbus is joining the ever-growing list of Volkswagen concepts, a list that’s seemingly focused on electrification. Stepping back to its roots, the German automaker is looking to bring a new VW electric bus to both consumer and commercial services. Will the VW ID BUZZ prove to be a lively entry into the lineup and succeed in illuminating the companies transition towards electrification?
Volkswagen has been very loud about their future electric car plans. While the brand slept through a lot of electric progress the past decade, the German automaker is very optimistic about its chances of being a new dominant force. Leveraging its vast production capabilities and capital, VW and its subsidiaries clearly want to make up for lost time.
The plan is to produce one million EVs annually in 2023 and scale upwards to 1.5 million by 2025. VW has been on a roll announcing vehicles left and right to fill every possible niche. Trying to not leave any need unmet, the brand also announced their new VW electric van, the ID BUZZ, hoping to bring back a classic from long ago.
VW ID Buzz
The new Volkswagen electric van made its debut as a prototype during the North American International Auto Show in January 2017. At the time, it was not stated if the electric bus would eventually make its way into production. The Volkswagen 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 microbus.
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 early production stages 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 Volkswagen electric bus will look to follow the first wave of VW EVs like the ID.3 and ID.4 which occupy more common vehicle segments.
It’s safe to say that the VW ID BUZZ interior that we have all seen is certainly not the final production version. With the VW electric van still being a ways away, it’s hard to speculate on what the final product will look like. We can imagine that the final volkswagen ID BUZZ interior will look to capture the same airy and relaxed feeling of the concept. Thanks to the removal of the engine and transmission tunnel, VW will be able to offer occupants more room than ever. This works great for the future electric microbus community who will surely make use of every square inch available.
As is the case with most EV concepts, the dashboard is rather bare with only a center screen and steering wheel. I say steering wheel, but well, it’s more of a rounded trapezoid. It also doesn’t have any holes for you to wrap your hands around to get a grip. We assumed that this visually pleasing but user unfriendly steering wouldn’t make it to production but with the new Model S steering wheel being talked about across the globe, anything is possible.
Seating for All
One of the most unique features of the ID BUZZ is the rail system built for its seats. Thanks to the increased interior space from going electric, the cabin of this VW electric van becomes very flexible. Every seat is able to be moved around, folded flat, folded into tables and swiveled to provide the exact seating arrangement that you need.
Under full autonomy, the Volkswagen concept goes so far as to show that the driver is also able to swivel their chair around and talk with the rest of the passengers.
As stated previously, the production version is still a bit away, so we don’t even know if this rail system will make the cut. As such the VW ID BUZZ seating capacity is hard to gauge, but the concept showed four captain’s chairs, and a two-person bench, giving us six occupants. Will that be the case for the production version? We don’t know.
This VW electric bus truly is the closest you will get to a “living room on wheels”, and I hope that the rail system will make its way into the production model.
The new VW electric microbus 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 its new, refreshed VW electric bus.
With the release date still so far away, it’s hard to gauge what the VW ID BUZZ colors will end up being. If VW does intend to continue the spirit of the original VW microbus, then we hope that it will carry a wide color gamut. Just one search of the original Type 2 and you will see a slew of vibrant colors.
Looking at the configurator for the California 6.1 and Transporter 6.1 Kombi, we see that there are already some rather vibrant options available today. Still, monotone grays, blacks, and whites dominate the options list in terms of colors, but perhaps that won’t be the case with the upcoming VW electric microbus.
The VW ID BUZZ specs are unknown for the most part. When the concept was initially shown, some tentative specifications were thrown around, but that was a few years ago at this point. Below you will find listed specifications for the VW electric van, but do take it with a grain of salt.
|Power||200kW (268hp)||275kW (369hp)|
|Range||270-373 miles (WLTP)|
|Charge Rate||150 kW|
The two different specifications should appeal to both customers that just want a VW electric microbus and don’t actually do road trips, and those who need the ultimate electric road trip vehicle.
Depending on the battery pack, the VW ID BUZZ range will be about 270-373 miles. The higher tiered 111 kWh battery version will have an estimated WLTP-rated range of 373 miles. The VW ID Buzz range will be close to 270 miles on the 83 kW battery option. As of the writing of this article, there are no other electric microbuses to compare to.
The range estimates for the VW electric microbus are given using the WLTP testing cycle which is known sometimes to be most optimistic than the EPA test. So if these numbers maintain in the production version, then look for the EPA values to be noticeably lighter. While 270 miles does place the VW electric van range in acceptable figures, given that an electric microbus’ envisioned use is for road trips, it might not be the most popular option unless there is a large price difference. Stepping up to over 350 miles of range on the larger battery version should prove to be enough for almost all cross-country tourists.
As of right now, the VW electric microbus 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.
As always, it’s important to note that battery technology is quickly evolving, so the final ranges could end up being much higher.
ID Buzz Cost
It is going to be a while before we get any VW ID BUZZ prices. We can gauge an estimate of the VW electric bus price by seeing how much more expensive the ID3 was compared to the average VW Golf, its closest sibling in size and vehicle segment. After going on the VW UK website (since we can’t configure an ID3 in the US) I averaged out the starting prices of the trims of the Golf and ID3.
I found that there was a premium of about 27% between the average price of the Golf offerings and ID3 (£29,788 vs £38,075). This was of course skewed because there were three Golf trims under 30k, and none of the ID3 trims were sub-30k. If we apply that same price increase to the current 6.1 Kombi then we might get a very rough idea of the VW ID BUZZ cost. Looking at the Kombi offerings we get an average price of £34,683 and after applying a 27% premium we get £44,047.
Take off about 20% for VAT and convert to USD at the current exchange rate and you get a cost of about $48,000. This is of course a superbly rough estimate and as VW brings more efficient production and battery costs lower, the price should be even lower.
A starting price in the mid-$40k range would definitely make the ID BUZZ a great option.
Circling back to the interesting steering wheel on the ID BUZZ, it’s actually meant to retract into the dashboard. No, really.
The concept envisions the ID BUZZ with full autonomy allowing the driver to press the center of the wheel to begin activation. Under autonomous driving, the steering wheel would just be in the way so VW has found a solution with a retractable steering wheel. This would allow you to swivel your seat around and engage with your passengers.
Unfortunately, this dream won’t be the case as the ID BUZZ will not initially launch with that level of autonomy.
However, VW and ArgoAI are currently testing autonomous features on a commercial version of the VW electric van. The brand is looking to have this version of the ID BUZZ on the road by the middle of the decade and will look to be VW’s first autonomous car. The autonomous ID BUZZ will serve as a robotaxi within certain European urban areas, implying that it won’t reach full Level 5 autonomy by that point.
It’s up in the air if we in the US will ever get the robotaxi version of the ID BUZZ, or if those autonomy features will make their way to the non-commercial ID BUZZ eventually.
VW ID BUZZ production is still a considerable time away from starting. The German automaker is in the midst of converting its existing factories into EV-capable facilities. A while ago we did receive some VW ID BUZZ news that confirmed that the VW electric bus would be produced at their Hanover facility.
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. BUZZ is to roll off the production line at Hanover.
In regards to how many of these VW electric microbuses we could expect to roll off the line on an annual basis, it’s anyone’s guess. While minivans are popular, especially for commercial purposes, I feel like VW will prioritize bringing out electric crossovers and compact cars.
VW ID Buzz Release Date
At this point, the Volkswagen ID BUZZ release date is slated to be sometime in 2022. The current VW electric bus we see is a hand-built prototype so it still has a long way to go before it enters production.
The most recent update for the VW electric bus release date was given by Carsten Intra, head of the brand’s Commercial Vehicles Division. The ID BUZZ will hit Europe in 2022, and then the US later in 2023. We in the US will not get the full scope of the ID BUZZ offerings, however. While in Europe the electric microbus will be offered in two wheelbases and a passenger and commercial layout, the US market will only receive a long-wheelbase passenger version.
VW ID Buzz Pre Order
A Volkswagen ID BUZZ pre-order is not yet available. Look for pre-orders to open up whenever VW gives us a look at a more production-ready design.
Whenever you hear the words ‘camper van’, chances are that one of the VW microbuses popped up in your head. The Microbus has become synonymous with camping over the decades. While no Volkswagen electric van news has been given regarding the ID BUZZ, we would find it hard to believe Volkswagen not making a camping add-on or camping version of the ID BUZZ.
Currently, VW has a few camping van options available, the California 6.1 and Grand California (although that toes the line between minivan and RV). With these types of offerings already available, it gives us confidence that we will see a camper ID BUZZ in our future.
In an effort to fulfill a utilitarian purpose as well as an “emotional” one, Volkswagen has shown off a VW ID BUZZ CARGO, a commercial 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 VW ID BUZZ electric van 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, but it will not make its way to the United States. The Volkswagen electric van price has also never been mentioned and it could go either direction as a commercial vehicle.
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 2021, Electrify America looks to have over 800 charging stations. 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 van 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 4,259 Level 2 and above charging stations that have a CCS plug, and that number will only grow as time goes on.
Now that we’ve looked at the electric microbus, 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.
The iconic VW Microbus would continue to go through model refreshes and is currently on its sixth generation. However, none of the new VW microbus generations seemed to be able to capture the magic of the original. We shall see if the new Volkswagen electric bus can recapture that spark.
When Will the VW ID BUZZ Be Available?
Currently, the ID BUZZ is scheduled to arrive in Europe in 2022 and the United States in 2023.
How Much Will the VW ID BUZZ Cost?
No official price has been given, but estimates are in the $40,000-$50,000 range.
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 VW ID BUZZ Range?
Depending on what battery pack it comes with, the ID BUZZ can have a range of anywhere from 270 to 373 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’).
How many people does the VW ID BUZZ seat?
Currently, the ID BUZZ is suited to seat up to eight people, but the interior is highly configurable with multiple rails and swiveling chairs to accommodate as many or as little people that you need.