In the 1960s, the iconic passenger van was the best way to move a large group of people. One of the most popular was the Volkswagen (VW) Microbus. This vehicle was synonymous with counterculture movements during the decade, and now, a new, modern version is coming out. The VW ID.Buzz combines nostalgia with electric vehicle (EV) technology.
Slated to reach showrooms by 2024, the ID.Buzz is a few years away from reaching American roadways. Early European models have been test-driven in countries like Denmark, with promising signs of the ID.Buzz’s performance in the North American market. VW has teased the rebooted Microbus as an alternative to the classic minivan, a possible hook for U.S. buyers.
The ID.Buzz comes with great aesthetic appeal, but its value will be based on whether it will be a practical electric van to drive.
For starters, it is heavy, weighing in at 5,400 pounds, yet its steering and handling are pretty smooth. It’s 185.5 inches long, just about the size of a typical compact crossover in the states. VW doesn’t outright say that all-wheel drive will be available, but it appears likely. Complete with the same battery packs as the VW ID.4 e-SUV, there are questions about whether the American models will have larger battery packs than European versions. In essence, the van’s performance is not too different from the ID.4, with an estimated 300 miles driving range before the next charge.
While the driving part seems relatively clear-cut, the eye-catching cabin raises more concerns. The ID.Buzz uses sustainable materials to craft the interior, but the infotainment system is rather underwhelming for all the beauty of the seats and dashboard. While visually appealing, interface functionality is in question. Movable parts, such as the center console, can be taken out, so the van may attract larger families needing to lug a lot of stuff.
Charging is always an essential part of any EV purchase. The European ID.Buzz model offers direct-current charging that can yield 5% to 80% power in just 30 minutes, thanks to the 170-kilowatt battery.
Whether that will be available in the U.S. model remains to be seen. The key feature will be the bidirectional charging that will be standard on all electric VWs. Owners will be able to charge the ID.Buzz and use the van’s energy to help power their homes and reduce grid strain.
Overall, the ID.Buzz shows a lot of promise as a sleek, eco-friendly vehicle that plays on 1960s nostalgia. The marketing and hype around them are huge, even getting a cameo in a Star Wars and Disney+ promotion. Expect to see the vans in U.S. showrooms by 2024.