Barely two weeks before its official debut, the Volkswagen ID.Buzz has been popping up all over Europe helping build, er, buzz for the all-electric take on the classic VW Microbus.
It’s been a half decade since a prototype version of the van first appeared on stage at the 2017 North American International Show in Detroit. The production version is scheduled to make its appearance during a global webcast on March 9 — though the long wheelbase version earmarked for the U.S. is still about a year away.
These photos show the ID.Buzz popping up all over Europe, a statement from Volkswagen claiming pre-production prototypes are on “final test runs under everyday conditions” in iconic locales like Amsterdam, Barcelona, London and Paris.
“Before we start full production of the ID.Buzz, these final trials with vehicles that are virtually identical to the ultimate full-production specification provide us with indispensable input for the final vehicles,” said Kai Grünitz, head of Vehicle Development at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.
An “emotional” icon
Perhaps, though the “trial” runs also help build anticipation for the return of the once and future Microbus.
“Our most emotional car in our history is definitely the microbus,” Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess said during an online forum last week, confirming that bringing it to market has been one of his top priorities.
VW is saving final details for the March 9 reveal but plenty of details have so far leaked out. To start, there will be both a standard and a long wheelbase version, and VW plans to sell passenger and commercial versions.
The standard model has a 117.6-inch wheelbase, and measures 185.5 inches in total length. The passenger ID.Buzz stands 76.3 inches in height, about 1 mm shorter than the commercial ID.Buzz Cargo model “due to slight differences in the chassis,” VW said in a statement. Both models are 78.1 inches wide. Buyers will have an option of wheels measuring anywhere from 18 to 21 inches.
Two- and three-row models
The five-seat passenger version offers up to 39.6 cubic feet of cargo space. The Cargo model bumps that up to 5.1 cubic yards.
VW has yet to reveal either exterior or interior dimensions for U.S. versions, which will be sold in the U.S. as 2024 models. Expect the American passenger model to offer three rows and seating for seven passengers. The seating configuration is expected to be quite flexible.
Both the European and U.S. models are both based on the flexible MEB drive platform which mounts powertrain components under the load floor. That frees up space for a frunk, something not offered on the original VW Microbus.
The European Buzz will feature a single electric motor driving the rear axle and producing 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. A twin motor version is in the plans for the U.S. and will make an estimated 300 hp. The automaker has not confirmed whether European buyers will also get that all-wheel-drive package as a later option.
For Europe, an 82 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack will be used. The concept version featured a 111 kWh pack and expectations are that a larger battery package will be offered in the U.S. It would be useful to meet the 300-mile range target VW is believed to have set internally. The automaker has not yet confirmed range for any of the Buzz packages.
The battery pack will have “Plug & Charge” capabilities. This function allows a motorist to simply plug in at a public high-speed charger and have billing information automatically passed from the Buzz to the charging system. In the U.S., only the VW-funded Electrify America network currently offers this feature but it is expected to become widely adopted in the coming years.
VW has not announced charging times yet.
The ID.Buzz will feature bi-directional charging — also known as Vehicle-to-Load capabilities. That means a motorist could tap into its battery pack to power appliances, work tools or even a whole house in the event of a blackout.
The Buzz also will be capable of handling smartphone-style over-the-air updates. That will permit remote fixes in the event of software glitches, as well as the ability for VW to offer new features and subscription services.
The European version of the ID.Buzz will reach showrooms in September. The American model will follow in early 2023. In the States, pricing is expected to start in the low to mid-$40,000 range.
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