ID. Buzz – Dawn of a new electric era for VW’s legendary Transporter
13 March 2022
Following much anticipation and fanfare, the wraps have officially come off the Volkswagen (VW) ID. Buzz. The German carmaker’s ‘icon for the electric era’ received its world premiere in Hamburg, Germany earlier this week. It will be available as both a passenger and a light-commercial vehicle, the ID.Cargo.
Built by VW Commercial Vehicles in Hanover, Germany, the ID. Buzz is shaping up to be Europe’s first all-electric minibus and a milestone in the long history of the Transporter, or T series, range. The ID. Buzz takes its cues from the hugely popular internal-combustion engine (ICE) powered VW Transporter vans, which have proved to be a market leader for over six decades.
Based on the same platform as the ID.3, but with a long wheelbase of 2.9m, it is roughly the same size as the current T6. The ID. Buzz and ID. Buzz Cargo are equipped with a 150kW motor driving the rear axle and a 77kWh onboard battery. The lithium-ion unit can be replenished from wallboxes or public-charging stations using an 11kW alternating current and can be charged to 80% in around 30 minutes.
The interior of the ID. Buzz provides room for five adults and 1,121 litres of luggage, and is equipped with touchscreens, Travel Assist with swarm data, and automated-parking capabilities. The vehicle also echoes VW’s drive to reuse and recycle materials in the process of car manufacturing, something many other carmakers are striving to do.
‘Both versions of the ID. Buzz are pioneering in terms of their sustainability,’ confirmed Carsten Intra, chairman of the board of management of VW Commercial Vehicles. ‘Their manufacture and shipping has a carbon-neutral footprint. We are also using recycled synthetic materials and the interior is completely free of any real leather.’
Andy Picton, chief commercial vehicle editor at Glass’s said from a design point of view, the ID. Buzz Cargo has not strayed too far from the tried and tested Transporter format. ‘It has an immediate retro T1/Bulli heritage look to it, combined with VWs new ultra-modern design language,’ he said. ‘The rear-wheel-drive Buzz Cargo is the first ‘proper’ from the ground up electric LCV to be designed and produced by a major European OEM.
Echoing a rich automotive history
It is hardly surprising that the ID. Buzz is packed with state-of-the-art interior technology, but it is the design that has created a stir, evoking decades of distinctive automotive styling. The first Transporter was launched in November 1949 under the name Type 2 (T1). Just under 20 years later, 1.8 million units of the model had been manufactured.
For over 70 years, the basic principle of the VW van, or ‘Bulli’, centred around practicality, robustness and a consistent style, which has tried to retain the look of the original model. Crucially, the ID. Buzz continues this tradition, complete with a flat front, minimal front-axle overhang, boxy lines and a call-back to 1950s motoring.
Similar to VW’s era-defining Beetle, the German carmaker’s Transporter vans have proved market leaders for domestic and commercial needs across the globe. They have also satisfied some more cult automotive needs, with a whole world of possibilities in terms of modifications and add-ons, which have spawned their own industry.
‘The ID. Buzz is timeless, sustainable and yet also extremely functional – that makes it unique,’ commented Jozef Kabaň, head of VW design. ‘The T1 was an icon of the 1950s and enabled people to gain mobility and freedom. With the ID. Buzz, we are transferring this T1 DNA to the present day and thus into the era of electric mobility.’
More than just another EV
There are few other vehicles with such a weight of automotive history resting on their shoulders. However, with the MEB platform underpinning the ID. Buzz, as well as an expectant and enthusiastic clamour for the vehicle across social media, success should be assured.
European pre-sales for the ID. Buzz start in May this year, with a market launch in the autumn. Buyers in North America are expected to be able to get their hands on the new ‘microbus’ from 2023. Although much has changed in the world of motoring since the heyday of the 1950s and 1960s with the T1, and the T2 iteration in the 1970s, customers of the ID. Buzz will look to channel the same sense of freedom the ICE-powered forebearers offered.
VW has hinted that the ID. Buzz will provide a key cog in the company’s long-term Accelerate strategy, focusing on ‘electric, software-driven’ mobility, and the vehicle will be adapted to fit in with slated autonomous-driving plans.
‘The ID. Buzz is a car, the likes of which only VW can build,’ affirmed Ralf Brandstätter , CEO of VW Passenger Cars. ‘In the 1950s, the VW Bulli stood for a new feeling of automotive freedom, independence and great emotion. The ID. Buzz picks up on this lifestyle and transfers it into our time: emission-free, sustainable, fully networked and now ready for the next big chapter: autonomous driving. With this car, we are bringing together the core themes of our Accelerate strategy in one product for the first time.’