“Volkswagen is making a new Microbus!”
My wife excitedly read the headline out loud over the weekend, to which I replied, “Yeah, they’ve been saying that for the last decade or so. Let me guess, that story is about a modern electric version?”
“Yeah,” she said, “So you don’t think it’ll happen?”
I didn’t mean to crush her hopes, but rumors of a new version of the much-loved VW Microbus have circulated for years. The company has even trotted out occasional concepts, further stoking the fire and raising hopes of the rabid Microbus U.S. fan-base.
My first thought when hearing about a “new” concept was that an old article had been recycled. But, sure enough, Volkswagen has shown a new concept, called the I.D. Buzz, at the auto show in Detroit.
The retro-styled van may look familiar, but the rest is a look into the future of Volkswagen. It’s a fully electric and autonomous vehicle that recognizes its driver, sets preferred temperature and audio settings, and uses a digital key from a smartphone app to open the doors.
There’s also plenty of room for families. The I.D. Buzz is huge at 194.6 inches long, 77.8 inches wide and 77.3 inches tall.
The under-floor 111-kWh battery pack provides a low center of gravity for the tall van and a range of up to 270 miles. There’s also a claimed 5-second sprint to 60 miles per hour, with a motor on each axle that makes a combined output of 369 horsepower and drives all four wheels.
Klaus Bischoff, Volkswagen Head of Design, says:
The I.D. BUZZ is not a retro design on 22-inch wheels; rather, we have taken the logical next step forward in development using what is in all likelihood the most successful design of its kind in the world. The entire design is extremely clean with its homogeneous surfaces and monolithic silhouette. The future and origins of Volkswagen design DNA combine here to create a new icon.
Considering all the times Wolfsburg have cried wolf over a new Microbus, what are the odds that this one will go into production?
VW board member Jürgen Stackmann seems optimistic,
I think this is the most realistic shot ever at the Microbus coming and we’ll have to see in the next few weeks how big a potential market in the U.S. could be. There’s no other market globally where microbus has the emotional pull that it has in the U.S.
Would you want an electric self-driving retro-styled VW Microbus?