By Steve & Tamami Laser
Volkswagen sells a wide variety of passenger, cargo, and camper vans in Europe that are not available in America. Some are named “California,” like the Caddy California, Grand California, and California Beach.
Others are called Transporter, Kombi, and Crafter, plus a new generation Multivan with a plug-in hybrid version. And now, with the ID. Buzz, we’ll soon have the chance to see new VW vans cruising the streets of SoCal and across the nation.
With styling that tugs at our heartstrings, the new models are planned to go on sale in Europe later this year. We’ll have to wait for a long-wheelbase passenger van to make its debut next year, followed by North American sales in 2024.
Inspired by the iconic Volkswagen “Bulli” T1 Microbus, the new retro-future bus follows the design cues of the ID. Buzz concept vehicle shown in Detroit in 2017. We got our first look at the concept during the Tokyo Motor Show and Los Angeles Auto Show later that year.
Like other members of the ID family, the new ID. Buzz rides on Volkswagen’s Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB). ID. Buzz and Cargo models for Europe feature an 82 kWh (77 kWh net) high-voltage lithium-ion battery with 12 modules under the floor. A 201-horsepower (150 kW) electric motor with 229 lb-ft (310 Nm) of torque transfers power to the rear wheels. Additional battery versions, with various power output levels, are expected to follow in 2023.
For Euro models, VW says that charging power with AC is 11 kW. Using a CCS plug connector at a DC fast-charging station increases power up to 170 kW, with charging from 5 to 80 percent in about 30 minutes. Bi-directional charging (vehicle-to-home) is also on tap for Europe, returning excess power to the domestic grid, via an optional DC wall box.
The modern cabin with retro touches features elevated seating positions, plus an elevated instrument panel inspired by the Microbus. The VW Digital Cockpit is positioned in front of the driver, and there’s a standard 10-inch infotainment touchscreen in the center of the dash. A 12-inch Discover Pro navigation system is optional.
The three-passenger sliding rear seat can be folded down completely or split 60/40. For standard wheelbase models, an optional six-seat configuration is in the works with individual seats in three rows of two. The upcoming extended wheelbase models will offer seating for seven with a 2/3/2 configuration.
The tailgate swings up to reveal 39.6 cu. ft. (1,121 liters) of cargo space with the rear seats up. The backrests of the rear bench can tilt separately and be individually folded down. An optional height-adjustable cargo floor creates a level loading surface.
High-tech driver assist systems for the Euro five-passenger ID. Buzz include standard Front Assist, Lane Assist, Car2X, and Dynamic Road Sign Display. Also available is optional Adaptive Cruise Control, Side Assist, Travel Assist with “swarm data,” Emergency Assist, Park Assist Plus with Memory Function, Light Assist and Area View.
Volkswagen says that at its highest specification level, the ID. Buzz will have more than 30 assist system on board, and that going forward, it will be possible to keep up to 35 controllers running the latest software version via over-the-air updates.
The ID. Buzz Cargo model for Europe offers three seats in the cab, or two optional individual seats. A fixed partition separates the passenger and cargo areas. The van can be fitted with an optional power tailgate, 19- or 20-inch alloy wheels, Discover Pro navigation with voice control, App-Connect with wireless Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™, and inductive phone charging.
The van offers 137.7 cu. ft. (3.9 cubic meters) of cargo space, providing room for two euro pallets loaded transversely. While we would love to see this van in our neighborhood, Volkswagen says there are no plans to sell the ID. Buzz Cargo in North America.
ID. Buzz and Cargo are produced by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles at its plant in Hannover. Volkswagen says that the majority of the vans’ electric drive system modules are made at the Volkswagen Group Components division in Germany, including the electric motor, axles, and battery system. In the long run, Hannover is also expected to produce the battery system.
News source and photos courtesy of Volkswagen AG, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, and Volkswagen of America, Inc.
Note: ID. Buzz and ID. Buzz Cargo shown in this story are near-production concept vehicles and have not yet gone on sale in Europe. Features, specifications and launch timing for these and other future models is subject to change without notice.
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