By on September 25, 2018

As the Microbus-inspired I.D. Buzz approaches production, Volkswagen has been careful to not stray too far from its roots. The original idea behind the 1950 Type 2 was the development of an economical vehicle that would be ideal for transporting cargo in an urban environment, but could also double as a people mover. While the Buzz places an emphasis on family togetherness and weekend adventures, VW claims there will also be a cargo variant focused on taking care of business.

Presented at the IAA Commercial Vehicles event in Hannover last week, the I.D. Buzz Cargo is that vehicle. Unfortunately, it’s not the final product. Its strong resemblance to the Buzz concept vehicle will probably carry over into production, but neither model will use a dot matrix of LEDs for forward illumination or do away with side mirrors. However, Volkswagen did more than just show off another concept. It included some meaningful specifications and a target launch date of 2021 for the electric transporter. 

Unlike the passenger version, the Buzz Cargo utilizes a single sliding door at the rear to free up the other side for storage. The tailgate will also be modified to better accommodate oversized objects, meaning split doors should be available as an option if they aren’t the standard. It also replaces the family model’s panoramic glass roof with a solid sheet of metal that VW claims can be used as a platform for affixing solar panels, thus extending the van’s daily range by roughly 9 miles.

Since Volkswagen intends to use scalable battery sizes on all of its Modular Electric Drive Kit vehicles, it claims the maximum range of the model should sit somewhere between about 200 and 340 miles, using the newer WLTP cycle. However, VW did say that the Buzz could be capable of more when equipped with the biggest power core option. The automaker previewed the concept with a relatively small 48 kWh unit, but VW said a 111 kWh battery should be available.

With a 150-kW (201-horsepower) electric motor providing motivation, the Buzz Cargo probably won’t be soul-crushingly slow around town. But you might find it a drag on the Autobahn, as its top speed is electronically limited at 99 mph.

I.D. Buzz Concept Volkswagen Microbus

Additional features include a 230V outlet to power workers’ tools without the need of an additional generator, plus a digital cargo system that allows drivers and business owners to keep tabs on their route, load, and vehicle condition.

Similar in concept to VW’s e-Crafter, the I.D. Buzz Cargo is quite a bit smaller. The e-Crafter panel van launched with an overall length of 235.7 inches and a maximum payload of anywhere between 2,000 and 3,500 pounds, depending on how it’s outfitted. Meanwhile, this concept version of the Buzz is said to be 198.7 inches long, 77.8 inches wide, and 77.3 inches tall, with a maximum payload of just 1,760 pounds. Wheels are said to measure 20 inches with 235/55 tires — downsized slightly from the passenger variant, and boasting more rubber.

I.D. Buzz Concept Volkswagen Microbus

VW offered up plenty of tech talk, but we’re willing to wait on most of it. There’s no reason to assume VW’s promise of Level 4 autonomous driving will be ready to tackle urban environments by launch. However, Volkswagen might incorporate the concept’s keyless entry setup, which integrates a digital key into the operator’s smartphone. All we really care about is whether or not VW decides to keep the concept’s front bench.

Volkswagen says production could begin on the Buzz Cargo as early as 2021. Expect it to undergo some moderate changes before then. The automaker intends to grow EV sales as quickly as possible over the coming years, aiming to sell 150,000 electric cars globally in 2020 and a million of them annually by 2025. Both versions of the Buzz are expected to contribute heavily toward that extremely ambitious goal.

[Images: Volkswagen Group]

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