VW waves green flag for Microbus-styled electric MPV
Volkswagen’s I.D. Buzz — a take on the classic VW Microbus of the ’50s and ’60s — is set for production. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG
Volkswagen’s long-awaited Microbus-styled MPV will see production as an electric vehicle, Auto Express reported. The electric Microbus, previewed in concept form as the I.D. BUZZ concept at the Detroit auto show earlier this year, has been greenlit by VW amid a push to market a wide range of EVs under the I.D. electric car sub-brand.
“Emotional cars are very important for the brand,” VW brand chief Herbert Diess told Auto Express. “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.”
The production version will use the new MEB platform; the concept version featured an electric motor at each axle producing a combined 369 hp. The I.D. BUZZ concept’s range was claimed to be 372 miles in the European cycle (around 270 EPA-cycle miles) — a figure that will likely see some revision by the time the production model debuts — drawing juice from an 111-kWh battery.
At the time, VW quoted an 80 percent recharge time of just 30 minutes, which should make the production version both anxiety-free and quick to recharge if the specs hold. The design of the MEB platform, which will underpin the early I.D. cars, will allow for a substantial jump in interior space; the designs have neither an engine compartment nor a gas tank, and the battery will be located under the floor.
The retro-styled MPV is likely to keep its dimensions and interior layout, though it remains to be seen how the BUZZ will make the transition from concept to production vehicle. The concept previewed extensive autonomous technology, the kind that is neither ready for production nor approved by transport authorities in the European Union or the U.S. But everything else, including the electric powertrain and the 270-mile EPA range, sound production-ready. The production version will likely offer a generous front trunk — the front seating position will be moved back a bit for crash standard purposes, while the overall dimensions may favor a footprint smaller than the original T1 Bus, as the concept suggested.
In addition to a base bodystyle, VW executives have hinted to Auto Express that multiple versions of the BUZZ will likely be offered, given the extensive lineup of the original Microbus that was available in multiple passenger, camper and pickup truck forms.
“The I.D. BUZZ is not a retro design on 22-inch wheels; rather, we have taken the logical next step forward in development using what is in all likelihood the most successful design of its kind in the world,” Volkswagen head of design Klaus Bischoff said prior to the reveal of the concept in Detroit this year. “The entire design is extremely clean with its homogeneous surfaces and monolithic silhouette. The future and origins of Volkswagen design DNA combine here to create a new icon.”
VW hasn’t mentioned a production timeframe for the new EV, but the New Microbus (as we’ll call it) is expected to be among the initial batch of I.D. cars on the MEB platform. The best estimates suggest a 2021 or 2022 launch time with an improved range over the concept and likely some Level 3-plus autonomy features, the kind currently offered in a small number of luxury vehicles including Mercedes-Benz and Tesla models.
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