Volkswagen has now made a half dozen retro microbus concept cars in my life span and the newest is the electric, autonomous I.D. Buzz with 270 miles of range that debuted tonight. If VW has any sense, it will build it as soon as possible.
The I.D. Buzz is different from all of the previous concept cars VW has shown, evoking the classic microbus/transporter style that left a gash in the soul of America, unfulfilled.
Volkswagen says I.D. Buzz is not only all-electric, it’s supposed to be self-driving as well. Given that there are no LIDAR arrays poking out from anywhere on this concept car, it doesn’t look like VW is taking its self-driving claims all too seriously. Whatever. It’s a concept car. It’s a nice idea.
Also nice is that Volkswagen says this car could have two sorts of power options: depending on where they live, a theoretical I.D. Buzz buyer could option a 83 kWh battery pack and rear-wheel drive, or a 111 kWh battery pack with all-wheel drive.
VW also envisions fast-charging and a 5.0-second 0-60 time for the all-wheel drive model. Range would be 270 miles. Production wouldn’t be before 2025, VW anticipates.
That’s cool, VW. You know what’s cooler? Actually selling an electric microbus to the public.
Basically, the I.D. Buzz uses the same electric car platform that we saw in the I.D. concept from last year, but packaged in an extremely smart, space-efficient, 16-foot-long microbus shape.
In its continuing fantasy, Volkswagen says that the I.D. Buzz has a retractable steering wheel when in its autonomous mode, as well as a fully-reconfigurable interior. This is a dream of the camper community that has been alive since the 1950s. Volkswagen thinks it could be in production by 2025:
The I.D. BUZZ is the world’s first fully autonomous multi-purpose vehicle. A slight push on the steering wheel makes it retract and merge into the instrument panel, switching the I.D. BUZZ from manual control to the fully autonomous “I.D. Pilot” mode that could make it into production by 2025. In this mode, the wheel is decoupled from the steering gear via a newly developed steering column system. The ambient lighting then switches from white light (“Drive”) to mood lighting that is warm and relaxed. At the same time, the distribution of ambient lighting is extended to the rear seating area. Simultaneously, the status of the I.D. BUZZ can be seen at all times on the tablet and the augmented reality head-up display.
In the “I.D. Pilot” mode, the front seats can be electrically unlatched and rotated so they face the rear, after the “I.D. Box” multifunctional center console is moved rearward. The seating system is flexibly designed to be like the living space at home or a lounge area. This versatility is based on a seat rail system that is integrated in the flat floor and on adjustable and folding seats. The seatbacks of the individual second row seats can be folded to form tables. At stops, the third row can be made into a bed, enabling the I.D. BUZZ to be used for overnight voyages. When the trip is resumed, clever detail solutions make travel more pleasant, such as softly padded rear side sun visors that can be moved and are designed so that a passenger can lean on them. Individually placeable cushions also underscore the cozy atmosphere of the interior, which is flooded with light thanks to its large windows and two-part panoramic roof.
I made these changeable seating positions into a little GIF so you can imagine taking one on an extended roadtrip across the southwest, seeing the great national parks you always wished you’d lay your eyes on, your family by your side.
You can read the full press release for more imagined specifications here, but I’ll just highlight that VW says the I.D. Buzz would get its autonomy from “laser sensors, [...] ultrasonic sensors, radar sensors, side area view cameras and a front camera. Traffic data is also continually acquired and compared with the vehicle data via the cloud. Fully autonomous mode is deactivated by touching the steering wheel or by pressing the brake or accelerator pedal.” Its LIDAR would sprout forth from each of the four corners of the car’s roof, like how Faraday Future has one LIDAR array sprouting from its FF 91's hood.
VW specs a wood floor interior in this concept, and a sort of touch-screen steering wheel. Dammit if that doesn’t sound wonderful.
SCREW YOU VW. STOP FILLING MY MIND WITH DREAMS OF BUYING ONE OF THESE IF YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO PUT IT INTO PRODUCTION.
MY HEART IS ONLY SO STRONG.
I HAVE ONLY SO MUCH LOVE TO GIVE.
CAN’T YOU SEE YOU’RE HURTING ME.
The I.D. Buzz seems nice, but it looks like it’s nowhere even remotely close to going into production as it sits. Normally I’d be fine with that in the case of a concept car, but VW has tried my heart again and again and again. I’m tired, Volkswagen. Just let my dreams die. Make the pain go away.