VW's Microbus is reborn as the groovy, electric ID.Buzz. Here's what it looks like | State and Regional News | independenttribune.com

2022-03-12 03:10:40 By : Ms. Fiona Li

The bus is back. And it's electric.

Volkswagen on Wednesday introduced the long-awaited successor to its iconic 1960s Microbus. Dubbed the ID.Buzz under the brand's ID electric sub-brand, the V-dub promises to be the first all-electric minivan. VW showed the two-row European version of the Buzz, which will go on sale in the third quarter of this year, with a long-wheelbase, three-row model to follow stateside in 2024.

Aping the original, the 2024 VW Microbus will be hard to miss with its huge front VW logo, boxy shape, two-tone color scheme, sliding door, and short wheel overhangs. True to its hippie roots, it will be aimed at tree-huggers with an interior full of sustainable materials like non-animal leather and organic paint. Make that deep-pocketed tree-huggers, as the ID.Buzz is expected to sticker here at $45,000-$65,000 — or $10k more than a comparable Chrysler Pacifica minivan.

The Buzz is the production realization of the ID.Buzz concept that turned heads at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show.

"The (Microbus) represents freedom and the democratization of mobility. With the ID.Buzz, we are transferring (that) DNA to the present day and thus into the era of electric mobility and sustainability," said VW design boss Jozef Kaban.

ID.Buzz will join the ID.4 in the U.S. market — the vehicles are based on the same Modular Electric Drive battery platform, but the Buzz will be considerably bigger than the compact ID.4 SUV with a standard wheelbase of 117.6 inches — which is longer than the VW Atlas, the largest vehicle VW sells in the U.S.

The U.S.-bound, long-wheelbase model will stretch to 127.5 inches, which dwarfs a Pacifica and is even longer than a full-size Chevy Tahoe mega-ute. Cargo area also beats Tahoe at a whopping 138 cubic feet. The stretched wheelbase will also allow room for an optional, longer-range 111kWh battery.

ID.Buzz is also as tall as a Tahoe at 6-foot-3. But with its short overhangs, the V-dub's total length is comparable to the compact VW Tiguan at 185 inches. Minivan rival Pacifica is 204 inches long.

The ID.4 EV, touted by Volkswagen as the most important car it has made since the Beetle as it transitions to an all-electric lineup, has been met by lukewarm media reviews and sales in the U.S.

Though likely to sell in smaller numbers than ID.4 given its lower-volume minivan segment, the groovy Buzz may be just the conversation starter VW needs to compete with Tesla, which has dominated the small EV sector. Microbus sold in the U.S. from 1950-1967 and became an icon of the counter-culture movement.

Drivers of the original sat on top of the front axle with their noses pressed to a windshield flush with the front bumper. To accommodate modern safety standards, that suicidal position has been moved back, but the Buzz still maintains the original cab-forward design.

The Microbus's familiar, V-shaped "hood" graphic cups the VW logo. With its tiny gas engine hanging out the back, the Microbus boasted a cavernous interior (thus the bus moniker) and the ID.Buzz follows suit since its battery will be under the floorboards.

The standard 82 kWh battery promises 250 miles of range, the bigger 111 a healthy 357 miles.

Like ID.4 (and the '60s Microbus), Buzz will be rear-wheel-drive with a 201-horse electric motor driving the rear axle and putting out 229 pound-feet of torque. Top speed? 90 mph compared the original's 72.

While the petrol-powered original could fuel up in five minutes on a tank of gas, the ID.Buzz claims it can charge from 5%-to-80% on a DC fast charger in 30 minutes.

Inside the Buzz's right-sliding side door (a second, left-side slider is optional), buyers will find a flexible interior. The three rows of seats can be removed to expand cargo room. The two-tiered front console offers storage — and can be moved between the second row seats when configured as captain's chairs.

Buzz will come in 11 color options and four two-tone options featuring Lime Yellow, Starlight Blue, Energetic Orange or Bay Leaf Green below the character line and Candy White common on top.

The front cabin will be familiar to ID.4 consumers with a 10-inch tablet screen (12-incher optioned) running the latest VW infotainment system. Touch sliders — controversial on the ID.4 — control temperature and volume. Less controversial will be wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, coveted by smartphone users. A steering-mounted stalk shifter with NEUTRAL, DRIVE and REVERSE positions controls the drivetrain.

True to its mission as a family hauler, the Buzz bristles with up to nine USB-C charging ports.

Complementing its exterior, two-tone flash, there will be four two-tone interior options as well. Candy White decorates the instrument panel and outer seatbacks while X-Blue, Orange, Yellow and Green color the dashboard, seats and upper door inserts.

An array of safety features come standard, including front brake assist, lane assist, and road sign display. Optional systems include adaptive cruise control, park assist and a surround camera view.

ID.Buzz virtue signals to green buyers with an array of sustainable materials, including non-animal leather, fabrics made of 10% ocean plastic and 90% recycled PET bottles, and organic paint.

The ID.Buzz will be manufactured in Hanover, Germany. More details on price, performance, and options (like the California camper package, complete with tent, sink and stove) are expected closer to the 2024 sales date.

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