Volkswagen Commits to Building an All-Electric Microbus

If ever there was a story where the nostalgics, the hippies and the eco road warriors could all read in simultaneous enjoyment – this would be it.

Hold onto your hats – Volkswagen is going deep into the nostalgia vault and has committed to building an all-electric production variant of its iconic Microbus. ┬áThe model will be largely based upon the I.D. Buzz concept vehicle that was shown last year at Detroit and Geneva and will give new life to a model that has been around for 70 years.

VWs I.D. Buzz Concept with an iconic Microbus.  PHOTO: Volkswagen AG

VWs I.D. Buzz Concept with an iconic Microbus. PHOTO: Volkswagen AG

The Chairmen of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brands, Dr Herbert Diess and Dr Eckhard Scholz, announced their production decision today at the Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, California, a unique show for both extraordinary historic cars and new concept vehicles. “Just the right place for the I.D. BUZZ,” explains Diess. “The vehicle is an important pillar in Volkswagen’s electric drive initiative and carries the Microbus driving feeling into the future.”

Within the framework of its further development activities, Volkswagen has also set a launch date for the I.D. BUZZ, which will arrive at dealerships after the compact four-door I.D. model in 2022. Volkswagen is mainly targeting the markets in North America, Europe and China with both the I.D. BUZZ and the I.D. family overall.

“After the presentations at the global motor shows in Detroit and Geneva, we received a large number of letters and emails from customers who said, ‘please build this car'”, Volkswagen CEO Dr Herbert Diess reported in Pebble Beach. It’s also no coincidence that the Board of Management chose Pebble Beach as the location to make its announcement, as Diess explained: “The Microbus, which is what the Bulli is called in America, has always been part of the California lifestyle. Now we’re bringing it back by developing Volkswagen’s next e-generation and by reinventing the Bulli as an electric vehicle.”

Dr. Eckhard Scholz and Dr. Herbert Diess announce the decision for a series production version.  PHOTO: Volkswagen AG

Dr. Eckhard Scholz and Dr. Herbert Diess announce the decision for a series production version. PHOTO: Volkswagen AG

As was the case with the “Show Car of the Year” in Detroit, the production model will also have its batteries mounted in the vehicle floor. The electric drive doesn’t take up much space, which means the front and rear axles can be mounted very far apart from one another. This results in a long wheelbase and short overhangs, which makes for more space in the interior. “The vehicle therefore looks like a short compact van on the outside, even as it offers the generous interior space of a large van”, Diess explained. The result is a superior package that offers both the driver and passengers plenty of room for a comfortable journey.

Those who wish to use the model to transport cargo will get what they need as well: “Along with a minibus version, we’ll also be offering an I.D. BUZZ Cargo variant for zero-emission delivery operations in a Level 3 vehicle that boasts a high degree of automated driving capability”, said Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles CEO Dr Eckhard Scholz. “It’s an ideal electric van concept, particularly for inner cities.”

Although Volkswagen’s oldest and newest, very evocatively designed MPV will be separated by more than seven decades when the new model is launched, the I.D. BUZZ has the original’s genes, as it offers maximum utilization of space on the footprint of a midsize passenger car.

The production version, which is based on the new all-electric architecture, will incorporate many design ideas from the concept car. It will also feature variable seating, interactive connectivity and highly automated driving.

So get your surfboards waxed and your camping gear packed – just be sure to also find a spot where charge ports are found.

Eric Novak

About Eric Novak

Eric Novak is a father of 4 who also thinks that environmental stewardship is a requisite of parenting. He's not a professional Dad nor is he an environmental scientist, but he's someone who gives a damn and is trying to make the right decisions as he lives his life as a father, environmentalist and business owner. Eric and his wife Karen have 4 children and reside in Ajax, Ontario.