By on March 11, 2017

volkswagen i.d. buzz concept

If your life goals for the near future include recreating the Summer of Love, there’s some far-out news arriving from Volkswagen. Public reaction to the automaker’s electric I.D. Buzz concept proved positive enough to give executives confidence in European and American demand for the reborn Microbus.

Unfortunately for latter-day hippies and retirement-age flower children, their enthusiasm for this out-of-sight green machine won’t be enough for VW to start production. It seems that the model’s future hinges not on the Counter Culture Revolution, but the Cultural Revolution.

For VW to give the model a green light, the automaker must be confident in its global success. That means sparking interest not only in San Francisco, but also Beijing.

According to Autocar, the automaker needs to be sure of Chinese buy-in.

“The concept has been well-received in the US and Europe,” VW design chief Klaus Bischoff told the publication at the Geneva Motor Show, “but the missing link is China. From the business case point of view it’s quite an investment – it needs a global green light. In the meantime, it’s thumbs up.”

After 16 years of Microbus-inspired concepts that went nowhere, one hopes VW has concluded that this can’t go on indefinitely. An EV model built on the company’s dedicated electric architecture would allow for authentic retro proportions, while the green element seems tailor-made to tap into the brand goodwill of the 1960s. It seems the company knows this.

At the concept’s launch late last year, VW sales and marketing head Jurgen Stackmann stated, “I think this is the most realistic shot ever at the Microbus coming.”

Designers in Wolfsburg are already working on turning the I.D. Buzz into a production-ready vehicle, Bischoff told Autocar. The model is “more than a show car,” he claimed. After previous failed attempts to resurrect the Microbus, Bischoff implied that this is the last kick at the can.

“I’ve tried quite a bit to bring this [the Microbus] to life,” he said. “This is the final temptation.”

If VW does decide to go ahead with the model, it would appear alongside an electric compact car and a host of other models at the start of the next decade. VW claims 270 miles of range and all-wheel drive, making the I.D. Buzz a fairly practical people carrier.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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53 Comments on “Volkswagen’s Electric Hippie Van is Close to Being Approved, But There’s a Catch...”


  • avatar
    OldManPants

    “In the meantime, it’s thumbs up.”

    Pretty much how my cardio visits go.

    I don’t know how attractive Chinese will find a vehicle that celebrates history’s largest population of spoiled brats unless it’s Sinicized to a degree that would make most Americans puke a tie-dyed rainbow.

  • avatar
    mcs

    My understanding is that it’s going to use 800v CCS charging so it will charge in 15 minutes.

  • avatar

    I don’t know about China, but in the US, I think gas would go over better than EV. I mean, this thing is supposed to be a road tripper (not just for those of us who remember Woodstock, but for families that need a minivan), and having to drive only where the charging stations are would be a real downer.

    This thing does look cool, though, unlike the rest of the minivans, but round headlights would be a nice touch.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      With 270 miles range, charging stations are less of an issue. With that kind of range you don’t need the density of charging stations you would need with lower range vehicles. If you are camping, you can charge at campgrounds and even take advantage of 240v 50a RV hookups. Last I checked, about the only places without level 3 charging are the Dakotas and Montana. By the time this is on the road, it’ll probably be available there too.

      • 0 avatar

        @mcs:
        If I’m going to go wandering around the country I don’t want to have to even think about where the charging stations are, and I don’t want to have to divert my route to fuel up. Even in the northeast, you’d be having to plan your route around charging states.
        EVs aren’t ready for prime time touring.

        • 0 avatar
          TwoBelugas

          Hehe, there is an insane level of irony in a bunch of wandering traveling free spirit types frantically plugging into the grid run by “the Man” searching for the next juice fix.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “Even in the northeast, you’d be having to plan your route around charging states.”

          Charging states? Level 3 DC charging is in every state in the northeast now. NH might be the worst with only a half dozen or so, but plenty in other states. Level 2s are everywhere now. The VW bus won’t be available until 2020 or so and there will probably be even more stations by then. You also have 120v outlets available that are more plentiful than gas stations. I was at a hotel in Vermont that had level 2 and level 3 charging, but I went with the 120v to charge since charging overnight was fine and I wanted to leave the big stations for transients.

          With my 100-mile range it’s a little bit of challenge going Boston to Woodstock Vermont a couple of times a year (Level 3 charging in Bedford NH), but I could make it round trip without a single public charge with a 270-mile range EV.

          Remember we’re talking 2020 here with 800v 15 minute charging arriving on the scene and plenty of DC charging stations.

          You also forgetting about day to day living. I just have to worry about windshield washer fluid. No oil changes, no dealership visits for whatever other types of maintenance. Best of all, on a 100-mile round trip, I never have to spend time at a gas station. Plugin at breakfast, plug in at work (although not always needed), then plug-in at home. Around town, I can do errands and make it home with 90+ miles on the range meter. A virtual perpetual motion machine. With a 270-mile (or more likely a 300+ mile range Porsche) I’ll only plug-in for preheating or precooling purposes.

          • 0 avatar
            phxmotor

            800v recharge in 15 min. Great. That solves everything.
            Except the raw physics that dictates a small (big) heat problem. The same heat problem that shortens battery life. How much? That’s the question.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @phxmotor
            Batteries that catch on fire, now becoming the problem of mobile phones and some EV’s

          • 0 avatar
            statikboy

            “no dealership visits for whatever other types of maintenance”

            Except that it’s a VW.

          • 0 avatar
            fishiftstick

            In fairness, I think by “charging states” he meant the condition of the battery’s charge, not states where charging stations are available.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @phxmotor: The cooling issues with the 800v and 1000v standards have been resolved. Read the standards or the articles for more information. On my own vehicle, quick charging hasn’t been a problem. I just checked my stats and I have 213 quick charges and 2,222 level 2 charges. Still charging to 100%.

            Also, I put a lot of miles on my EV in the Northeast and I know the charging stations well. For the most part, level 3 charging is not bad. There are problems with the older Nissan CHAdeMO units, but the ABB 50kW units seem to be pretty good. There’s an abundance of level 2 stations. If you’re camping and the campground has electrical hookups, you can charge there too. Even better if the campground has NEMA 14-50 240v outlets.

            270 miles is almost 4 hours of driving. You just plan your stops at places with charging. It’s not hard since many malls have reliable CHAdeMO/CCS combo DC chargers. In 3 years when this VW hits the market, we’ll probably see more charging units. New units are cropping up every month.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @David C Holzman
      This thing will be a non starter in Australia. I know some people will have affection for a VW ” put put” Minivan, but not enough to put up with an EV version

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        “This thing will be a non starter in Australia.”

        Bipedalism is a non-starter in Australia, innit?

        • 0 avatar
          TonyJZX

          I find it strange that they cant ok this for production and yet these billion dollar companies can ok the CC and Arteon and GLC and BMW 4 Gran Coupes etc.

          ALso this is VW… you can bet they’ll find a way to pollute the atmosphere even in an EV…

          • 0 avatar
            baconator

            Yes, this. I can’t imagine a universe in which this doesn’t sell way more units than the New Beetle or the Arteon (or the Scirocco or the CrossFox, other low-volume VW oddballs we don’t get in the US). I guess the trick here is that it needs a big battery pack in the floor so it can’t be MQB-based, but it seems like a complete no-brainer to make it in three lengths to replace the ex-US-market Touran and Sharan vans.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @baconator
            I doubt this will fly. Hippie Vans are a 1960’s fad,

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            The GLC *sells* (nearly 9,000 in the US last year).

            The 4 GC sells as well – per CarSalesBase, of 67k 4s sold in 2016 in the US, 38k were the Gran Coupe.

            “An electic hippie van with a VW badge” is … well, I wouldn’t count on it making 9k a year, let alone 38k with 4GC margins.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        Meanwhile in the 21st century…

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Make it electric. Tired of it being 76 degrees in Chicago in mid-February. Chinese will be buying lots of First World frills, including beef and cars. Let’s at least make it so the cars contribute less to global warming.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I’m thinking along the same lines as Holzman. Every time I go camping in some really out-of-the-way location, there’s a VW van of some age parked there already. These are the kind of places where the 400+ mile range of our EuroVan or Sienna seemed barely adequate.

      And 270 miles of range, for a highway trip even in the more populous parts of the US, is just not all that much.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Holzman: “Even in the northeast, you’d be having to plan your route around charging states.”

        Yes, this is exactly the situation. At this time, your charging plan is part of your trip planning and not just something you do when the car is “thirsty.”

  • avatar
    Ermel

    I cringe every time this vehicle (the original T1 Microbus, that is) is being called the “Hippie Bus” or similar. In its run, from 1949 in Germany through 1974 in Brazil, I’m certain it moved more buckets of paint, bricks, businessmen, flowers, hotel guests, TV sets, kids, injured people, fire hoses, sacks of cement, families on holiday, two-by-fours, breadloaves, and ice-cream than it ever moved hippies, by orders of magnitude.

    I can only hope that Volkswagen’s product planning and marketing departments know this, and will deliver a comparably versatile family of passenger, cargo, and camping vans as well as pick-ups, instead of just another, albeit slightly retro, minivan.

    Edited to add: They made the same mistake with the “New Beetle”: there’s more to being a worthy successor to the Bug than just mimicking its shape. The Bug was about simplicity, sturdiness, longevity, and sustainability. The Microbus was about the same things, plus versatility, offroadability, and space.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      Yeah, no one cares about you tiny-country people.

      I mean, fer chrissake, you lot wolf down Nutella and *like* it.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      Indeed, and VW sells boatloads of vans in various sizes all over the world. I’ve ridden in many of them, and the ones with leather and sound deadening are pretty darn nice. VW is shooting itself in the foot by not bringing more one-box vehicles to the US.

      I know several Californians that would jump at the chance to buy the current VW California, the modern successor to the Vanagon Westfalia. Old Westys in good condition cost right about what the California costs new. That sure as heck seems like a signal a product planner should pick up on.

    • 0 avatar
      Brett Woods

      @Ermel. That’s just about how I see the shape of it brother. True dat. The Hippie meme is now canned and processed for mind trapped squids. Bagged and shuffled for your convenient programming. Like how marketing whores take the best bits of once meaningful shared songs and re-purpose them to force feed you pony piss.

      And for those of you still worshiping the light of Lucifer behind the haze. I’m out. Unless it’s sport or special purpose, I don’t want to suck on a tail pipe. It’s poison people. You have a choice. Never let me hear you say, “There was no time to do nuthin’ but run.”

      I got big warm feelings for the Westfalia. For me, it’s the pop-up roof that made the morning after as good as the night before. Allows you to stand and wash at the sink, change your pants, and use the jug.

  • avatar
    Asdf

    If the Chinese aren’t interested in this vehicle, then make it for the rest of the world instead. There’s no good reason to take the Chinese market in particular into consideration when considering the viability of a model in the marketplace. Chinese sales should be considered a bonus, and just that.

    But before this van enters production, it needs an internal combustion engine, not a pack of batteries.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      “There’s no good reason to take the Chinese market in particular into consideration..”

      o_O

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “There’s no good reason to take the Chinese market in particular into consideration when considering the viability of a model in the marketplace”

      Well, except for the *giant piles of money*.

      A marginal product is made not marginal by being popular in a big market…

  • avatar
    TwoBelugas

    Too bad the whole dieselgate thing transpired. I always thought a microbus shaped van with a 2.0 TDI is a great combo for a road trip vehicle. put in a 20 gallon tank and you can get 700-800 mile range.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    I’ve never seen an electric hippie.

    (Not to be confused with George Carlin: “The San Diego freeway was the scene of a freak accident today as six freaks in a camper crashed into three freaks in a van.”)

  • avatar
    Garrett

    I hope they do NOT build it.

    They’ve been teasing all sorts of vans forever now. It’s gotten so ridiculous that I’m literally sick of a vehicle that doesn’t even exist.

    Making it all electric is idiotic. The original was about taking long trips, made a decent camping vehicle, etc.

    Finally, if you can’t build a new vehicle without depending on sales in China, then you should just call it quits and give up…you obviously don’t have the cost structure to stay in business.

    Frankly, VW keeps moving in a direction that makes me increasingly less likely to buy one in the future – I’ve owned two and I would have purchased a TDI at some point but we all know what happened there.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Garrett
      Unlike GM, VW is a true Global Company. China helps the bottom line, but they sell vast numbers of Vans as it is. You do not see them in NA however. So it tends to distort their current lineup

      • 0 avatar
        Garrett

        There’s one other thing to consider: given the price point it will probably be at, the Mercedes Metris gets a lot closer to being the German van of the people.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          I was looking to see if anyone here who thinks VW can command a price premium for their vans is aware of the Metris. I’ve yet to see one that wasn’t taking up space on a new car dealer’s lot, suggesting they don’t seem to be setting the market on fire while undercutting the Dodge Caravan on price. Considering who buys or leases VWs, I don’t think there is any argument for a VW on the US market that costs as much as a Mercedes-Benz.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            Or as much as a Transit or ProMaster.

            The only thing I can see a VW having going for it is retro/nostlagia appeal.

            Which a snouted* all-electric has none of.

            (* I understand the practical “not a deathtrap” reasons to not have a forward-control no-nose setup, naturally.

            But it ruins the retro aesthetic which is the selling point…)

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    Purrfect for strapping the boards on to go shoot the curl and hang not number one but number ten at Gulangyu Beach!

  • avatar
    anomaly149

    Man, this is a picture-perfect example of burying the lede.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Wait until people sees that it costs as much as a Model X.

    We’re surely talking about a 100 kWh EV with SUV trimmings and unparalleled “German Engineering”. It will easily be $80-120k or more.

    Per Ermel’s comments above, this ain’t a hippie’s dream bus anymore.

    And if VW really expect to utilize 800V charging, they’ll have to install the chargers, because such chargers *don’t exist yet*.

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    It does seem like VW would have to target upper income families who may be turning their nose up at the large top-trim minivans, and shopping the Model-X to replace their Suburban. And if it was Marco Polo’d up like a Metris Camper (thanks for introducing this comparison), it would be a big ticket bug, maybe only seeing young-people-duty as a hand-me-down in the 2040’s. I guess the trick is keeping it cute, high quality retro (we know there is a proven market for that), female friendly and Chinese new-wealthy friendly.

    I stopped off last night to check out a Westfalia on the road. Oh my, that is one short wheelbase! Like the cute Mitsubishi. I had forgotten.


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