Volkswagen has revealed the long-awaited long-wheelbase version of its i.d. The Buzz electric microbus, with an extra row of seats, begins deliveries next year in the US.
to update: We’ve added some additional information that we gathered today at the reveal event this morning in Huntington Beach, California.
The new identifier. The Buzz Edition is similar to the European-spec two-row, but with more of just about everything. It’s 282bhp versus 201bhp (plus a 330bhp twin-engine configuration) with a top speed of 99mph instead of 90mph, 91kWh instead of 82kWh from the battery, and it’s about as much as 10 inches. It also had an opening rear window, unlike the two-row version.
All of those extra 10 inches come in the form of a 10-inch longer wheelbase. At 192.4 inches long, the three-row ID. Buzz is actually two feet longer than Volkswagen’s original 168-inch microbus. All of this means more space for people and cargo than the two-row version. The extra row of seats takes up some of that space, but the second row can fold flat and the third row can be removed (and Canada gets a unique long wheelbase two-row, without the third row of seats for those who just want more space).
Sitting in the car at the reveal event, there was no shortage of space. At 6′ tall in the second row and with a 6’3 VW dealer representative behind me, we both had no shortage of space in either dimension. 6 adults shouldn’t be a problem here, maybe 7 provided at least one of them is skinny. VW is planning a 6-seater option, but we haven’t seen it yet.
The longer wheelbase also means room for an additional 9 kWh battery. VW has yet to announce the three-row version’s range, though the Euro-spec is 263 miles on the WLTP cycle. Although the NA spec has a larger battery, it’s also longer and heavier, and the EPA’s mileage estimates are much lower than the WLTP’s, so we can’t be sure what the final number will change. All VW will say is it will be somewhere between 200-300 miles.
In terms of charging capacity, the two-row bus has 170kW charging, but a Volkswagen rep told us that the larger battery will likely enable faster charging, perhaps up to around 200kW.
The only solid efficiency answer given by VW written, though, is that the Buzz has a drag coefficient of 0.29, which it calls “very good for a car of this shape” (i.e. a brick).
The North American model also comes in three new colors not available in the European specification: Cabana Blue, Metro Silver, and Indium Gray.
Volkswagen has yet to set a price for the US version of ID.Buzz, but it starts in the $65,000 to $70,000 range in Europe after taxes. While the 3-row version is larger, Volkswagen hinted to us if US pricing came out less European pricing, but that’s clearly not a promise as nothing has been officially announced yet.
The lower price may be necessary because the ID.Buzz will be built in Germany and imported into the US, which means it won’t have access to tax credits like the ID.4 made in the US. It also means that the United States will not get the cargo truck – it will be subject to “chicken tax“Which keeps foreign trucks out of the US. Domestic production,” Volkswagen says could It happens, but it depends on sales going well (we at Electrek think VW is underestimating this car’s market), and on production schedules.
Regardless, that puts the price near the high end of the electric SUV market, not near the entry level. We mention electric SUVs because there really is no other vehicle like this. There’s a plug-in hybrid pickup truck, the Pacifica Hybrid, and some commercial electric vans like the eSprinter and E-Transit. Personal achievement. Sitting somewhere next to a pickup truck and a minibus, Buzz has more personality than either, so it’s really hard to find a direct competitor to it.
But perhaps the closest thing would be a minivan, and that would be a much higher price than the entry level gas-powered in that market, which is in the ~$35K range. However, Buzz may reach some state and local incentives and will have lower operating costs than energy and maintenance.
As the first all-electric entry into the market, Volkswagen probably thinks it can justify a higher price. Anecdotally, there seems to be a huge demand for a great little electric car—especially one that can allow… Interesting diversion/adventure options.
VW hasn’t given us any other news about the upcoming California camper van it’s planning, but the long wheelbase gives Volkswagen room to work with. With all that space and electricity built in, there should be some really great options for truck drivers (maybe even those who want to stay off the grid with solar panels).
We got a little hands-on time with ID.Buzz at today’s reveal event in Huntington Beach, and the crowd was really excited about the new electric bus.
As someone whose family had a VW Vanagon Westfalia, the VW Bus is of particular interest to me. My family went on a lot of adventures in that bus, and with all its quirks, it was a great car.
And when I got into EVs, I constantly thought what a great platform a bus could be for an EV, with plenty of space under the floor for batteries that could power the many camping accessories (stoves, lights, entertainment, etc.).
So when Voltswagen offered its original identity. The Buzz concept leaned heavily into the cool old style of all things, and I was instantly sold on the idea. I, and many others, thought it was pretty cool.
Then reality set in, and the car ended up looking less “cute” than the original retro concept. The final version got a slightly boxy shape, losing the distinctive old multi-window look, and the business/cargo version lost the rear windows to look like a regular truck.
But still, between the two-tone paint job and the short overhangs (although the driving position is less forward than classic buses, as a result of modern safety requirements), the id. Buzz is still more “fun” than the average truck. It has more personality than most minivans, and it’s less boxy than other vans like the Sprinter and Transit.
At today’s event, Volkswagen invited bus owners to attend, and there were quite a few of them filling the parking lot. Many of them were excited to see the bus back, but like me, wished it had more of the original spirit of the classic bus. However, VW’s offering has leaned heavily into classic bus culture, so we hope it continues to grow that and incorporate that spirit into the Buzz.
I’m wondering, though, why North America can’t get the two-row version. It seems everyone is launching a three-row electric vehicle this year, as if every American family suddenly gained two or three extra members that their European counterparts didn’t.
Somehow, my family’s 180-inch-long camper comfortably slept my entire American family, despite being a foot shorter than today’s width—and it even had a kitchen, too. And the Westfalia owner I spoke to, who owned the same car I grew up in, said the same thing: He wished they’d brought the smaller version here, and he accepted.
VW of America told us they could choose the short or long wheelbase for the NA, and they chose the long wheelbase. They think it will fit the market better, and the myriad types of customers.
We have a strange obsession with larger vehicles here, despite their enormous costs to society (eg, the lives of thousands of pedestrians). Some might say Americans are simply asking for bigger cars, but the problem is more complex than that — it’s pretty much driven Poor organization that stimulate motor volume increase. Fortunately, the EPA has shown signs of wanting to bend the needle back, but rather slowly.
Until then, we’re still getting a sleek, retro-styled bus that looks like it could have some great camper potential. But some of us might still be waiting for a more scaled-down version of the classic microbus, rather than the big minibus America is getting now.
And there are still some unanswered questions just yet (price, range), but I’m excited to see what Volkswagen does with this bus anyway – and to see what kind of cool tweaks people will have in offering potential wagon versions and likes.
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