The latest member in the family of Volkswagen I.D. electric vehicles is the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept, a modern-day interpretation of the VW Kombi or Microbus – and it looks like this time it might actually make it to production.
As such it packs eight seats, an electric engine with a claimed 600 kilometres of range, and all-wheel drive. Oh, it just so happens to be the first fully autonomous van, too, according to the German maker.
First, let’s consider the styling of the new concept car, which is said to “give another face to electromobility”.
There's more than a hint of retro inspiration on show here – the stumpy nosecone with the V-shaped insignia certainly resembles the old split-window vans of the 1950s – and Volkswagen has called upon its heritage when referencing the I.D. hatchback, too, showing images of that new-generation electric hatchback alongside the Golf and Beetle, seemingly its spiritual predecessors.
Indeed, the press information on the VW I.D. Buzz concept says the new show-car “awakens flower power feelings”, so those hippie baby boomers may get a chance to relive their free, feel-good days – but this time around with a gaggle of grandchildren in the back.
That wouldn’t be possible with a conventional drivetrain, and this version’s electric system – based on the brand’s new “Modular Electrification Kit” – is capable of pushing out 275kW, while charging takes just 30 minutes to 80 per cent capacity. VW claims that in some specifications (the 111kWh battery pack) it can run from 0-100km/h in about five seconds, with a top speed of 160km/h. But there will likely also be smaller battery packs, including an 83kWh version with 200kW of power.
The I.D. Buzz concept is said to feature a flexible seat layout with accommodation for up to eight people, with the company calling the vehicle a “space wonder” – the driver can even turn their seat 180 degrees to face their family or friends when the car is in I.D. Pilot autonomous mode. It even has two trunks: one in the back, and one up front, and the steering wheel, as such, isn’t a wheel at all: it’s a touch-pad.
Underneath there’s variable all-wheel-drive (it can operate in rear-drive, too), and the rear wheels also have steering to help it achieve a turning circle of 11 metres.
The new concept is considerably larger than the existing Bulli and Budd-E concept cars, at 4.94 metres in length and riding on a 3.30m-long wheelbase. The floorpan is made up of battery packs, said to give the car a low centre of gravity despite its height (1.96m). For comparison's sake, that makes this model about the same size as a Volkswagen Multivan SWB (4.89m long, 1.97m tall, on a 3.0m wheelbase).
Dr Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen said the I.D. sub-brand will launch in 2020 and will see a family of models offering buyers different options.
"In the year 2020, the Volkswagen brand will launch a major new electric vehicle initiative with a completely new vehicle architecture. Then we will bring a whole new generation of fully networked, fully electric vehicles onto the market. By 2025, we want to sell one million electric cars per year. We make electromobility the new trademark of Volkswagen," Diess said.