By on June 19, 2017

VW Microbus I.D. Buzz Concept

After countless false starts and endless teasing, Volkswagen seems prepared to deliver on a modern-day microbus. While VW’s T platform is still in existence, the Type 2 that we all know and love died in the late 1970s — though society since developed a deep-seated nostalgia as we collectively forgot how disgusting and impractical real-world hippie culture actually was.

The world has asked for a throwback model for quite some time, something Volkswagen appeased with a 15-year stretch of concept cars, culminating in the 2017 I.D. Buzz revealed in Detroit in January. Then, earlier this year, gossip circulated indicating the Buzz might actually enter production, using the company’s MEB modular electric-vehicle architecture. But those were just rumors, right?

Apparently not. Volkswagen’s brand head, Herbert Diess, confirmed production for the electrified box last week using some definitive language.  

“Emotional cars are very important for the brand,” Diess told AutoExpress during the reveal of the new VW Polo. “We are selling loads of Beetles still, particularly in US markets. But we will also have the Microbus that we showed, which we have recently decided we will build.”

I assume we are all equally elated that he called it “the Microbus” and not “the Buzz.”

Having dumped the atrocious name, the electrified bus should still resemble the concept vehicle in form — toned down for the masses, of course. The I.D. Buzz claimed an optimistic 373 mile range on a single charge using the New European Driving Cycle. Realistically, the MEB platform could be capable of surpassing the 200 mile mark when it finally enters production. Assuming it keeps the Buzz’s dimensions, Volkswagen could install a sizable battery pack beneath the floor or offer a variety of capacities to mitigate cost of entry.

The production Microbus is unlikely to have the concept’s LED strip headlights and taillights, hopefully opting for something retro and round. Because, if you’re going for a throwback model, you might as well go whole hog. It’s also not going to possess the complete autonomy VW pitched at the auto show unless the company plans on holding off production for a decade or two. But the German automaker has waited long enough. Further postponing a family-friendly and practical EV with unlimited nostalgic appeal doesn’t seem like a sound business decision.

Volkswagen building the Microbus plays right into its current impetus to construct more EVs and fewer small cars. As long as they deliver something halfway decent, it should appeal to everyone who hasn’t adamantly sworn off electric drive. Perhaps if they do it right, it might even change the minds of a few people who have.

VW Microbus I.D. Buzz Concept

[Images: Volkswagen]

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33 Comments on “Volkswagen Finally Confirms Production of ‘Microbus-styled’ Vehicle...”


  • avatar
    JimC2

    Does it come in robin’s egg blue? “Run, Marty!”

  • avatar
    wintermutt

    An electric only VW Microbus makes no sense to me. Makes me wonder if this is VW’s revenge – “Ja Ja we would have put in a diesel but recent problems led us to reconsider” …

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Winter-

      It actually makes good sense: they’re using nostalgia and their tie-in with the boomers combined with electrification to make amends for the sins of dieselgate. Just as the Beetle was a revolutionary small car for the American market in the 60s-70s, the Microbus helps take advantage of the CUVification trend and also be very unique to the marketplace.

      In short: a great way to test the electric market with something unique that will grab eyeballs/media/heartstrings and help Volkswagen recover from dieselgate.

    • 0 avatar
      tylanner

      The Gasoline concept car is dead.

  • avatar
    carve

    Wow- a front-engine car with the windshield pushed to the end of the hood. I wonder if it has engine access from the inside like the old pedo-vans?

    Pretty good look…I think people will just find the enormous dashboard strange.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “Wow- a front-engine car with the windshield pushed to the end of the hood. I wonder if it has engine access from the inside like the old pedo-vans?”

      An electric car doesn’t have an engine in that way. They can do it any number of ways.

      The Previa, though–now that was a great car. Very similar in design, but they threw the gas engine under the driver’s seat.

      I liked it.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      It won’t end up having the A-pillars that far forward, so it won’t look like a Combi, so most car folks will be upset.

      I can keep hoping for cab-over Econoline pickups, they ain’t happening, either.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      My point is it is not a cabover-style design (which is good from a safety perspective), so the look is achieved with a REALLY long dashboard where the hood might otherwise be.

  • avatar
    Lynn Ellsworth

    I love it. I can’t imagine VW (or any manufacturer) introducing a great new (or updated) vehicle that isn’t fully electric.

    I can remember how terribly noisy the original air cooled VW ICE vehicles were and how easily VW water cooled ICEs overheated.

    If VW keeps their engineers out of the loop and has Bosch, Siemens, or Panasonic build the power train it should be reliable.

  • avatar
    mcs

    “Realistically, the MEB platform could be capable of surpassing the 200- mile mark when it finally enters production”

    If it gets the 80 to 120 kWh packs that Audi is getting from LG, it’ll go a lot further than just 200 miles. The Bolt is 60 kWh and 238 miles and the P100D has a 310-mile range with 100 kWh.

    We’ll probably see the 150 kW charging that will be available on the 2018 E-Tron, but the 300 kW charging that the Mission-E gets would be nicer.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    And all the charging stations will be in the ‘hood.

    I can’t wait to see the “Vacation” remake with THAT one.

  • avatar
    EddyKilowatt

    Present EVs are mainly useful to households with more than one car… to whom they are VERY useful. An EV for commuting, grocery-getting, and kid hauling… and something liquid-fueled for weekend trips and vacations. It’s surprising how the EV becomes the go-to car once you have one… our Leaf has logged twice the miles of our two ICE cars combined in the 3+ years we’ve owned it, just because it’s so cheap and convenient to operate.

    So… can VW successfully style and market a retro-bus to multi car households, meaning mainly, families? I think that ship has already sailed for most boomers who remember the original buses. Does the bus have the cross-generational appeal that the Beetle has shown? Will Gen-X parents want to tote their kids around in a fashion throwback statement?

    Regardless, I predict a big market awaits whoever first gets a competitively priced van-or-CUV type platform with 200+ mile range — that’s not freakishly weird like Leaf or to some extent Bolt — into middle-class consumer’s hands.

  • avatar
    stuki

    You don’t need range enough to follow the Dead (and besides, the Dead is dead), as long as all you use your VW for, is sit on Venice beach trying to look cool in your organic hemp depends.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Your passion and skill at raising the quality of the discussion about cars on this website is remarkable. But perhaps your area of expertise is irrelevant.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Look at the accompanying pictures, maaaan!! :)
        For by far most people, getting to tropical palm beaches where they can hold hands, takes range. And an infrastructure for refueling that exists in tropical beach places where you are still allowed to park until sunset.

        The original hippiebus didn’t become an icon on account of how it looked. But rather, on account of it’s suitability as a kind of rolling never-ending road trip/RV/rolling-place-of-business/what have you. IOW, exactly the kind of usage that would render an EV drivetrain maximally compromised.

        But of course, nowadays, at least some of those original Deadheads, have awakened from the haze to realize their crashpad in the Haight, or in Venice, is “worth” millions (As has, seemingLy, VW.) So they can afford to attempt reliving their automotive glory days. While still publicly displaying adherence to the main talking points of the party that’s not ran by Nixon. Like, climate, maaaaan! But, unfortunately, they are now also old enough to need to bring some depends with them. And heck, with a pad in the Haight, why not get the organic ones at Wholefoods? While your rolling memory lane gets preferred parking at the charging outlets up front….

        It’s all well reasoned….. :)

  • avatar
    Ermel

    “The Type 2 that we all know and love died in the late 1970s.” No it didn’t, it got reshaped into then-modern boxiness and called the Vanagon on your shores. It even got a bulletproof engine — the inline four Diesel — to go with the comparatively fragile Boxers that were never really suited for a van-style lack of maintenance, and hence weren’t considered reliable by the masses. And yes, the T3 has arrived with the fandom like its predecessors have, and I predict a similar price hike in the coming decade.

    Technically, even the front-engine T4 through T6 are still Type 2s, but I’ll give you that they are not “the Type 2 we all know and love” anymore, but rather oversized Golfs (Golves?) or something.

  • avatar
    YellowDuck

    Brilliant, makes all kinds of sense. Type 2, hippy culture, love the planet, electric vehicle. It’s kind of really the only way they could have done it.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Only rich hippies will be buying this. It will certainly need a 100 kWh battery, and will likely cost $60k+.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Yup, and that’s a tiny demographic. I do see a Honda Element scenario though, where it is bought by empty-nesters for its’ utility; but again it’s not a volume demographic. The Mazda5 is/was awesome, but it couldn’t generate sufficient numbers for long term survival.

  • avatar
    colin42

    Why wait!? For $130k you can get an electric bus now. http://www.zelectricmotors.com


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