The VW ID Buzz is coming, and Volkswagen hopes its iconic van will attract a lot of attention as it gets reinvented for the EV era.
The ID Buzz is expected to hit the U.S. in 2023, and VW claims the electric vehicle could be fully autonomous by 2025, which is pretty exciting. You can also expect a roomy interior, high-tech cockpit and seating for up to 7 adults.
What we’ve seen so far looks like the original VW van got abducted by aliens, given a full pulp sci-fi makeover, and then dropped back on Earth nearly 60 years later. While the van is still a way from release, and the details are a little scarce, here’s what we know so far.
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VW ID Buzz release date window and models
We don’t have an exact release date for the VW ID Buzz just yet, but Volkswagen has confirmed that it will be going on sale in Europe at some point in 2022. The North American variant will then go on sale in the U.S. in 2023.
We don’t have any details on pricing, but we do know there will be multiple variants of the van going on sale. Both Europe and the U.S. appear to be getting commercial variants for services like product delivery, called the ID Buzz Cargo.
Europe will also get a six seat model with all passengers facing forwards, with information screens in the seat in front. The U.S. model will also get a passenger model, but layout will be different since two of the rear seats will be facing the rear of the van.
There are two builds, one with rear-wheel drive and 200 horsepower, and the other with all-wheel drive and 200 horsepower.
VW ID Buzz design
The passenger iteration of the VW ID Buzz looks reminiscent of the classic VW vans of the past — albeit with a few design choices that suggest VW is trying a little too hard to make it look futuristic. But the basics are there, with the two-tone color scheme, the slide open doors, and plenty of interior space for your trips to the beach, the woods or wherever else you might go.
On top of that there are two glass panels in the roof, one over the driver and passenger, and a second larger panel over the rear seats. The van also comes equipped with LED headlights and a very large VW logo — just in case you forgot who made it.
The Cargo variant is a little different, and based on prototype models that have been spotted in action, the design has been altered accordingly. So think of the regular ID Buzz crossed with a Ford Transit van, and you get the idea.
However, it is worth mentioning that the ID Buzz is still a concept vehicle for the time being. That means the design can, and likely will, change pretty dramatically before you can actually go out and buy one.
VW ID Buzz interior and features
Inside the VW ID Buzz is, naturally, pretty spacious. That’s the word VW uses, and we happen to agree based on everything we’ve seen so far. Details have emerged that the passenger variants of the ID Buzz will have space for four occupants, though the layout of the rear seats will differ depending on where you buy the van.
European models will have four rear seats all facing forwards, but in the U.S. two of those seats will be facing the rear of the van.
VW claims the van won’t be short of storage space. The automaker hasn’t revealed any dimensions, but promises an “extra roomy luggage compartment” and “flexible seating” to ensure you can have extra space if you need it.
The interior also features an infotainment touchscreen display and an adjustable steering wheel that looks like it’s taken more than a few cues from Tesla's controversial Yoke steering wheel. Not only is it smaller and more rectangular than a traditional steering wheel, it also features touch controls instead of the usual levers and buttons you’d find on other cars.
Frankly, that’s something we could do without, and judging from photos of the delivery van prototype (accessible on Motor1) that may well change before the ID Buzz makes it into car dealerships. Then again it might not, since prototypes aren’t always indicative of the final model.
VW has also promised an augmented reality heads up display, which will project directions directly onto the road in front of you. So you shouldn’t need to have to keep checking your phone, or the car’s infotainment screen, to figure out where you need to go.
VW ID Buzz autonomy
There is no such thing yet as a fully autonomous car, not one that you’ll see on public roads anyway. There are six levels of automobile autonomy, as set out by the Society of Automotive Engineers, ranging from level 0 (zero autonomy whatsoever) to Level 5 (zero driver input at any time). Right now most cars are in Level 1 or 2, though there are a very small number of level 3 autonomous cars on sale in parts of the world.
Apparently, VW wants to get the ID Buzz out on the roads with level 4 automation by 2025. Level 4 means that, for all intents and purposes, the car is driving itself around independently. However, there may still be instances where a human driver needs to intervene, and manually override the autonomous controls.
The idea is that the ID Buzz’s different variants should, in theory, be able to ferry around people and goods by itself in just four years time. Which is obviously a very big deal, especially given how many times automakers have been consistently promising grand advances in autonomy that never quite live up to expectations.
Whether VW can actually deliver or not is another matter. VW-owned Audi had planned to release a Level 3 autonomous car, the Audi A8L, in Europe back in 2019, but that never happened. That appears to be thanks to lack of regulatory framework, which made selling the tech to the public a legal gray area.
But if it actually worked, then it stands to reason that VW is well on its way to reaching level 4 autonomy. But we’ve been burned before, and will have to sit tight and see what actually happens.
VW ID Buzz outlook
It's clear that VW want to make sure the ID Buzz is more than just an electrified version of its classic van. But it's still a very ambitious project, and we'll have to wait and see whether the German automaker can actually pull off the many advances it's trying to achieve by 2025.
Then again, even without fancy features like Level 4 autonomy, or the weirdly-trapezoidal steering wheel, it'll be interesting to see what the ID Buzz will have to offer. The only downside right now is that the vehicle only exists in concept and prototype form, so we can't actually analyze important stats like range. So only time will tell.
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