Volkswagen's Microbus Returns as an Electric People Hauler Called ID. Buzz

The Volkswagen Microbus officially returned on Wednesday after a decades-long absence. The new van, called ID. Buzz , goes on sale in Europe next year and the U.S. in 2024. In a release, Volkswagen describes the bus as harkening "back to the iconic Microbus design of maximum space in a small footprint".

The ID. Buzz began life as a concept five years ago, following up on a previous EV that also looked like the famous bus. There have been more iterations since then, but now the public can see its production form.

The new vehicle uses VW's MEB platform for electric vehicles (EVs). It already underpins several Audi and VW battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and VW says it will eventually work with 80 percent of its models, including some in the commercial portfolio.

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The ID. Buzz with seats and ID. Buzz Cargo (no seats behind the front row) will arrive with a 77-kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery. That, plus the rear mounted electric motor, will be good for 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque. More powertrain options are promised.

Top speed is limited to 90 mph and there is no official range estimate yet.
As with most of the current EVs, the battery is mounted on the floor, co-serving as a stabilizer for the large body style.

Using a DC fast charger, the ID. Buzz can go from 5 to 80 percent charge in just 30 minutes. Europeans will also get bi-directional charging, which means the battery can power something else like a house or car. Though the Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Ford F-150 are already able to charge equipment, Americans will have to wait until further down the line to get that feature in the Buzz.

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The standard wheelbase is 117.6 inches, which is just a few inches shorter than today's Chrysler and Kia minivans. The ID. Buzz has a tight turning radius of just 18.2 feet. The Ram 1500, for instance, takes 22.9 feet.

"The T1 – an icon of the 1950s – represents freedom and the democratization of mobility. With the ID. Buzz, we are transferring the T1 DNA to the present day," said Jozef Kabaň, Head of Volkswagen Design in the release. "We very consciously ensured that we were not making another T1. The ID. Buzz shows that it is successfully transferring the genes and stylistic elements of that iconic vehicle into the digital era."

While the new van doesn't get round headlights like the classic, it does make full use of modern LEDs for the head, tail, and accent lights. An LED strip connects the taillights, similar to the ID. 4 and European ID. 3.

Volkswagen Light Bus Concept
A replica of the VW "Light Bus" painted by Dr. Bob Hieronimus. Volkswagen AG

To keep the good vibes going, VW is offering the new ID. Buzz in bright colors like orange, yellow, green and blue, as well as two-tone options with a white upper and yellow, orange, blue or green lower portion.

The ID. Buzz comes with five seats. The front two have both memory and massage functions and feature fold-down tables for the passengers to use.
The three-person bench in the back can fold and slide depending on passenger and cargo requirements. Six- and seven-seat configurations will be offered later.

Volkswagen ID. Buzz
The Volkswagen ID. Buzz has been in development since 2017. Volkswagen of America

A 10-inch digital cockpit display is standard and paired with a 10-inch infotainment touch screen. Upgraded vehicles get a 12-inch infotainment touch screen with navigation. Digital buttons and touch sliders handle the climate control, driver assist systems and a few other features. Like the ID. 4, the Buzz comes with an interactive "ID. Light" that rests in the driver's field of vision.

"A signal in the right-hand area of the strip advises of obstructions in this area or corresponds with a navigation instruction to change lanes. When 'ID. Light' goes red, it is signaling danger and the need to brake," said VW in the release.

Production will happen at VW's main plant in Hannover, Germany, by its commercial vehicle team. The batteries and motors are produced elsewhere for now, but even that will be coming in-house down the road. More information will come later this year.