Admirers of Volkswagen’s iconic Kombi will be heartened to hear that the generation-defining Microbus is set to make a return by the end of 2022 as one of the brand's fast-growing range of electric vehicles.
Previewed by the I.D. Buzz concept at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, the new Kombi-inspired van will be sold with a choice of two wheelbase lengths, a range of interior configurations with seating for up to eight passengers, and autonomous driving capabilities.
As a result of positive public reaction to the I.D. Buzz concept Volkswagen has made the decision to create a production version of the MPV concept, with key markets including North America, Europe, and China to be targeted by the EV.
The production version of the I.D. Buzz will be one of five future electric vehicles from Volkswagen, which has also included production versions of the I.D. Crozz SUV and original I.D. hatch, all of which utilise the same flexible EV underpinnings.
Volkswagen chairman, Herbert Diess, confirmed the I.D. Buzz’s move to a production reality at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Monterey, California.
“Since its appearance at the Detroit and Geneva auto shows earlier this year we have had a flood of correspondence asking us to build the I.D. Buzz,” said Diess. “We can now confirm it will go into production in 2022.”
While the intention of the I.D. Buzz is to evoke memories of the legendary Volkswagen Type 2, first launched in 1949, the hardware itself is thoroughly modern, based on Volkswagen’s new all-electric MEB (Modularen Elektro Baukasten – Modular Electric Toolkit) architecture.
In concept form the I.D. Buzz featured all wheel drive via a pair of electric motors, one for each axle, contributing to a total output of 275kW with a potential driving range of over 600km on the European test cycle thanks to a 111kWh lithium-ion battery.
For production a single-motor 125kW version powered by a smaller capacity battery is also planned to provide a more cost-effective entry model, but Diess confirmed that a petrol or diesel-powered version isn’t part of the plan but the possibility of a fuel cell version couldn’t be ruled out.
In the same way that the original Kombi’s innovative packaging helped to maximise its interior space, the modern interpretation fits its batteries beneath a flat floor, liberating space for up to eight occupants within three rows of seats. The concept features technology such as a touch sensitive steering wheel and an augmented-reality head-up display, with cameras taking the place of rear-view mirrors.
Confirmation of how much of that technology will feature in the eventual production version was not forthcoming, but Diess was able to confirm that the production version of the I.D. Buzz will be capable of supporting at least Level Two autonomous driving technology from the outset of sales.
The I.D. Buzz is just one part of the wider Volkswagen Group’s ‘Together Strategy 2025’ which will see 30 battery-powered models launched across its various brands, including Audi, Skoda and Seat, by 2025 as part of a $10 billion investment.
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