After running test prototypes of the VW ID. Buzz underneath a Transporter T6’s shell for a few months, Volkswagen began testing the production body of its new electric van in July 2021. TopElectricSUV.com reader David has spotted a production VW ID. Buzz Cargo charging at an Aral Gas Station in Braunschweig (Brunswick), Germany. David told us that he snapped the prototype while charging his ID.3.
Here’s what we know about Volkswagen’s next-generation van:
Design & Features
Volkswagen Group unveiled a black and white camouflaged VW ID. Buzz prototype at its New Auto Night event on the eve of the 2021 Munich Motor Show (IAA 2021). The prototype is one of the first five self-driving test mules of the VW ID. Buzz AD (Autonomous Driving), and the technology demonstrator reveals some of the design features.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has masked the headlamps, but their outline is clearly visible. The van features a wide and curvy hood, rounded side mirrors, and dual-tone wheels. A LiDAR on the roof allows the EV to see objects from more than 400 meters (1,300 ft.) away. Pennsylvania-based Argo AI has made the LiDAR, and this proprietary sensor uses Geiger-mode technology that can detect even the smallest particles of light. So, even objects with low reflectivity, say black vehicles, for instance, don’t go unnoticed.
The production VW ID. Buzz in the spyshot (above) has no sliding door on the driver’s side and features disabled rear windows, typical commercial vans characteristics. Thus, it must be the showroom-bound version of the ID. Buzz Cargo premiered at IAA 2018, a year and a half after the original ID. Buzz passenger van at the NAIAS 2017. The passenger and commercial versions share the proportions and shape.
The production VW ID. Buzz probably isn’t as clean or sleek as the concepts. It looks certain now that the flush-fitting LED headlights and front fog lights haven’t transitioned into the final design. The V-shaped hood is not as tall and unlike the Transporter, it doesn’t have a semi-hood design.
From the back, note how the VW ID. Buzz is lower than the Multivan with a squatter stance. The glass panels of the all-electric model are also noticeably smaller. The wide tail lamps with curves, just like the headlamps, are part of the disguise and aren’t representative of the final design. However, we are positive that the production version will also have slender wrap-around LED clusters.
Volkswagen equipped the passenger ID. Buzz concept with a two-part panoramic sunroof that can let in plenty of natural light into the cabin. However the ID. Buzz Cargo concept used a solar panel roof that can increase the driving range by 9.3 miles (estimate). We don’t see that feature on the test mule, but the company may offer the photovoltaic system as an option when it launches the model next year. Another major difference on the Cargo version was rear-wing doors, but it looks like the company has reverted to the passenger version’s tailgate.
The spy shot below shows the ID. Buzz’s thin turn indicators in the rear lights. Moreover, we also see a cut-out for the charging port on the right-side rear fender. However, it’s placed too low, and so, maybe it’s part of the disguise.
The production VW ID. Buzz interior (which you can see on Motor1) looks quite similar to the VW ID.4. With an Open Space theme, the cabin is airy and light, with a lounge-like atmosphere. The interior looks clean and simple but quite modern and upmarket for a people mover.
The compact steering wheel has a flattish center cap and touch-sensitive controls. On the left is a control panel housing the light and vision functions, followed by a round AC vent. A floating touchscreen panel resides in the middle of the dashboard, most likely measuring 12 inches diagonally for AVN. An inclined surface below the central display has sliders to adjust the volume and temperature. Finally, right behind the steering sits a compact digital instrument cluster along with a rocker switch that allows selecting the drive modes and enabling the parking brake.
Augmented Reality Head-Up Display, Play & Pause stainless steel pedals, ambient lighting with 30 or more colors, wireless smartphone charging pad, and front seats with lumbar support, twelve or more electric adjustment options, a memory function, and a massage function are some of the other key features we expect in the production ID. Buzz.
Video Source: YouTube/Autogefuhl
YouTube channel Autogefuhl’s presenter Thomas Majchrzak has sat in a VW ID. Buzz AD prototype, sharing his first impressions in a video. Majchrzak notes that the electric van gives a very spacious feeling on the driver’s seat. The short overhangs (and the cab-forward design) allow more interior length for the front seats. Majchrzak, 186 cm tall, says that the headroom is “way more than enough.”
The VW ID. Buzz will be Volkswagen Group’s first autonomous vehicle. At the company’s New Auto strategy event in July 2021, CEO Dr. Herbert Diess talked about profiting from mobility and transport as a service. He said:
Fully autonomous will be an integral part of our business model in 2030. Robo-taxi services require four different layers of activity. A booking platform to match demand and supply, holding the customer data, and managing the payments. This platform can be highly profitable. The operation of the fleet, a service business which we are testing with our MOIA brand in Hamburg. The autonomous vehicle – we will start with the ID. Buzz AD. And then the virtual driver, the most complex software system the world has seen so far, in fact, a worldwide active neural network which continuously improves its driving capabilities. Also potentially very profitable.Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO, Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen Group New Auto strategy)
Christian Senger, Head of R&D MaaS/TaaS, Volkswagen Group, confirmed at the event that the VW ID. Buzz AD will feature LiDAR:
LiDAR will be integrated in our first fully autonomous vehicle – the upcoming all-electric ID. Buzz AD, which will be used for our 2025 pilot service.Christian Senger, Head of R&D MaaS/TaaS, Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen Group New Auto strategy)
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, MOIA (a mobility company of Volkswagen Group), and Argo AI will deploy the VW ID. Buzz in an autonomous ride-pooling system in Hamburg, Germany, by 2025, with the ultimate goal of scaling it internationally. Argo AI will start mapping the streets of the test area in Q4 2021. It will manually drive the test vehicles throughout the city to create these 3D maps. East of the Alster river, including parts of Winterhude, Uhlenhorst, and Hohenfelde, is the initial test area.
Once the initial testing and development phase is over, all three companies will conduct test drives with and without passengers to ensure that everything is ready and safe for public launch in 2025. Argo AI will use the learnings from the German project in the U.S.
Senger shared highlights about the VW ID. Buzz’s different configurations in his presentation of the autonomous version.
Senger said that the ID. Buzz “will be a truly iconic and also highly versatile product.” Then, he shared revealed teasers (above) of the different seating layouts of its passenger versions and talked about them briefly.
It (ID. Buzz) will support EU-focused ride pooling for multiple customers sharing a ride at an even more attractive price and with the additional benefit of less inner-city traffic congestion. The ID. Buzz will provide safe access from one side and each seat will be individually accessible with a separate information screen for each passenger the more US-focused ride-hailing variant will provide a comfortable space for our customers traveling alone or in small groups of family and friends.Christian Senger, Head of R&D MaaS/TaaS, Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen Group New Auto strategy)
Senger talked about the commercial version, which could be a big volume driver in Europe. Moreover, he shared a teaser of a future commercial version’s interior that would be autonomous.
For our goods transportation solutions, the autonomous ID. Buzz Cargo provides the right base for many use cases, eliminating the requirement for a human driver and making parcel delivery even more productive.Christian Senger, Head of R&D MaaS/TaaS, Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen Group New Auto strategy)
The production VW ID. Buzz will likely ride on the extended MEB-XL platform and have a wheelbase of around 3,300 mm. Like the concept version, it should have an air suspension at the rear axle and electronically controlled dampers for maximum comfort.
The lengthy wheelbase can lead to a huge turning circle, but the production version should have a steerable rear axle like the concept version. The concept model has a turning circle of less than 11 meters, and for the production model, Auto Express claims a smaller, 10-meter turning circle.
Volkswagen may offer the ID. Buzz in single-motor RWD and dual-motor AWD configurations, with battery packs as large as 111 kWh. The battery pack would be part of the floor, reinforcing the vehicle’s structure and lowering its center of gravity.
Inferring the spec sheet of the concept ID. Buzz (incl. ID. Buzz Cargo), it’s possible to equip the van with up to two motors and 83 kWh and 111 kWh battery packs. Volkswagen was also talking about a 48 kWh battery pack when it unveiled the Cargo concept, saying that it is enough “if the transporter covers fairly normal distances in the city on a daily and weekly basis.” However, don’t expect that smallest option, if available, to come stateside.
The van’s maximum power could range between 150 kW (201 hp) and 275 kW (369 hp). The biggest battery pack may deliver a range of between 325 and 350 miles (WLTP). In addition, Volkswagen may offer a solar roof option to extend the daily range by around 9 miles in sunny conditions. As always, expect official EPA estimates to come out lower than the WLTP ratings.
The VW ID. Buzz’s production will take place at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle’s Hannover plant in Germany. This will be the only production site of the all-new e-bus worldwide. The Hannover plant currently manufactures the T6.1 and the all-new Multivan, and it’s undergoing remodeling to prepare for the production of the ID. Buzz, which will begin in 2022, most likely in the second half of the year. Later, from 2024 or 2025, the German commercial vehicle factory will start manufacturing three large electric SUVs, possibly a Porsche Cayenne electric, an Audi Q7 e-tron, and a Bentley Bentayga electric.
The production VW ID. Buzz will premiere in 2022, and customers in the first markets will be able to order it the same year. Norway could be the first country where ID. Buzz goes on sale. You’ll be surprised to know that Volkswagen is already accepting reservations for the upcoming electric van’s Cargo version in the country. Both individuals and companies can reserve their ID. Buzz Cargo electric van today on butikk.vw.no. Reserving now will give customers priority when sales begin in 2022, Volkswagen says on the website.
In the U.S., deliveries of the ID. Buzz will likely commence in 2023. Prof. Carsten Intra, CEO, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, has confirmed 2023 as the year when the VW Bus will return to America.
The ID. Buzz, beginning in 2023, will be returning to the North American market, and we also see major interest there right now.Prof. Carsten Intra, CEO, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (Annual Media Conference 2021)
The ID. Buzz will join the T6 and the all-new Multivan (T7) as Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle’s third van. Speaking about the upcoming all-electric van at the new Multivan’s world premiere, Prof. Intra said:
As the third Multivan, as of 2022, the ID. Buzz will nicely round out our van portfolio. It will become fully electric, and soon, fully autonomous icon from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. And with that, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will now define such issues as autonomous driving, new digitally mobility transport solutions, become the leader here, and also shape the new mobility, and we’ll also continue to thrill our customers.Prof. Carsten Intra, CEO, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (2021 VW Multivan world premiere)
Volkswagen Group’s American ambitions in line with the Biden plan
U.S. President Joe Biden wants to make half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 in the country, zero-emissions vehicles. Volkswagen Group is in a strong position to achieve the target, as it was already planning an EV offensive for other markets like European countries and China. The company is likely to speed up the launch of its new EVs in the United States.
We are ready to bring a wide range of highly attractive EVs tailored to the U.S. market, and participate over-proportionally at a time when everybody has to start from scratch. The ID.4 had a flying start, perfectly in time for Biden’s push towards e-mobility.Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO, Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen Group New Auto strategy)
The VW ID. Buzz is a big deal for Volkswagen Group in the U.S. market, where it faced a major setback following the dieselgate scandal in 2015 and is trying to rebuild its reputation.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is evolving more and more into a lifestyle brand, offering the range of famous California vehicles and soon launching our most emotional electric car so far – the ID. Buzz. It will significantly contribute to enhancing the appeal of the Volkswagen brand, reloading it with emotions and love, particularly in the United States where the coming home after 30 years will boost our EV campaign in the market and bring back the emotional touch with all the memories of from the 70s.Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO, Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen Group New Auto strategy)
Volkswagen Group could launch several niche models in the coming years to intensify customer interest in its EVs. After the New Auto strategy announcement in July 2021, Dr. Diess said that the company needs more emotional products, as per a report from Automotive News. Cars like the VW ID. Buzz really adds something to the brand and helps it stand out from the competition. The company expects to increase its market share in the U.S. to 10% by the end of the decade. Dr. Diess thinks that the modern-day VW microbus would be popular in the country.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ sales recover in 2021
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is recovering from the losses from temporary plant closures and low demand witnessed in 2020. While the semiconductor shortage is a new challenge, the company increased customer deliveries by 25.4% to 205,000 units in the first half of 2021. However, the operating profit during that period was only EUR 87 million, nearly four times lower than in H1 2020 – EUR 334 million.
The Multivan, Transporter, and Crafter were among Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ best performers in H1 2021. The company sold 95,000 T series vehicles to customers (+54%) and more than 35,000 units of the Crafter (+43%). Caddy’s sales during this period were just a shade under 50,000 units. Demand for its popular campervans also went up in the first half of the calendar year. The California 6.1’s sales rose by 40% Y-o-Y, and Grand California’s orders doubled from the same period last year.
Featured Image Source: David/Instagram