VW unveils an adorable electric ID. Buzz, US sales start in 2024

A VW ID card.  Buzz in a studio
Enlarge / Volkswagen ID. Buzz will have the electric minivan market all to itself when it arrives in 2024.

Jonathan Gitlin

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion, especially when you’re selling stuff. That’s why automakers regularly dive into their back catalogs to dust off a beloved nameplate or silhouette and weave it into modern underpinnings.

And you can’t get much more modern than a battery-electric powertrain, as in the case of Volkswagen’s new ID. Buzz. (Yes, the name has a period.) The company that gave us the new Beetle based on the much-loved old Beetle has now taken inspiration from its iconic T1 Microbus. Although we have seen the initial ID. Buzz concept back in 2017, the vehicle is back as a production model. It will go on sale in Europe next year and in the United States in 2024.

If you don't want a two-tone paint job for the ID.  Buzz, it is possible.  But we think the two-tone will be more popular.
Enlarge / If you don’t want a two-tone paint job for the ID. Buzz, it is possible. But we think the two-tone will be more popular.

Jonathan Gitlin

Depending on how you look at it, the ID. Buzz has been in the making for two decades. In 2001, Volkswagen designed a new Microbus, which looked cool but never made it past the concept stage. Ten years later, VW tried again with Bulli. Although Bulli looked less sleek than the Microbus, it was perhaps a more realistic representation of a production van, with a domed nose to accommodate an engine compartment and front impact protection.

VW’s next van concept only took half a decade this time. 2016 was the year of BUDD-e, which kept Bulli’s two-box shape but ditched the internal combustion engine. Instead, VW would develop a new flexible architecture for electric vehicles in the wake of dieselgate.

Then, at the 2017 New York Auto Show, we saw the ID concept. Buzz, a charming day-glo creation more faithful to the Microbus 2001 – and to the Microbuses of the 50s, 60s and 70s – than Bulli or BUDD-e. The reaction, even from people who don’t usually care about cars, was remarkable and VW quickly gave the ID the green light. Buzz for production.

The main instrument display and infotainment screens will be familiar if you've been in an ID.4.
Enlarge / The main instrument display and infotainment screens will be familiar if you’ve been in an ID.4.

Jonathan Gitlin

For the past year or so, the internet has been gossiping about ID. Buzz has been discouraged at times. People who saw photos of camouflaged Buzz prototypes worried that the concept’s charm had been watered down to the point where it was just another boring minivan. After seeing the vehicle in person, I can say that their fears are unfounded. For one thing, minivans aren’t boring. And even if they are, this one is not.

There are a few details missing from the 2017 concept: there’s no whitewashed wooden floor and there’s no levitating gnome on the dashboard. The side cameras have been replaced by real mirrors. But there’s not really more of a nose to the shape than the 2017 design study, and the vehicle still looks splendid in two-tone, which is now a more showroom-friendly gold and white. rather than gray and fluorescent yellow. Between the axles, the ID. Buzz contains an 82 kWh battery with a 150 kW electric motor driving the rear axle.

Despite the missing gnome, there’s still plenty of fantasy if you’re looking for it. I counted a number of pieces of identification. Buzzing silhouettes, embossed in upholstered trim or molded into a seat base or even on the rear window frit. Even the plastic end caps that cover the screw holes have little blinking smiley faces. And the pedals have the same “pause” and “play” symbols we’ve seen on previous ID Concepts and first editions.

The van is also very practical, with USB-C ports everywhere and plenty of storage space. The middle row of seats isn’t removable, but it folds down, and VW will have a cargo shelf accessory that goes in the back. This means you’ll have a flat floor (at the height of the middle seats folded down) with storage space underneath.

Technically, the vehicle you see in the photos and video is not really a van either. When Europeans get their first identity card. Buzz next year they will get this shorter wheelbase variant, which has only two rows of seats in passenger specification. Europe also gets an identity card. Buzz Cargo which only has seats in the front.

However, neither the Short Wheelbase Van nor the Cargo Van is intended for North America. Next year VW will unveil a longer wheelbase ID. Buzz, which will feature three rows of seats. And that’s the variant we’ll see in 2024. That’s too far out for VW to tell us how much the vehicle will cost or go into specs, including how far it can go on a single charge. We’re expecting there to be an all-wheel-drive option, and VW could do ID. Buzz with batteries of different capacities. But we have no concrete information so far.