It’s been almost 80 years since the Volkswagen Microbus, or Kombi, first rolled off the Wolfsburg assembly line in Bavaria. Destined to become an iconic vehicle of Sixties counterculture, the distinctive loaf-shaped vehicle eventually ran afoul of a political scrum over chickens. Now it’s back in an all-electric reincarnation. Volkswagen plans to release the ID. Buzz EV microbus in the USA in 2024.
Volkswagen is bursting with starry-eyed optimism about the ID. Buzz’s future sales in America. Seating 7 passengers and looking the part of a Volkswagen Microbus, the ID. Buzz is also popular with reviewers. The VW electric bus is appearing alongside a new, affordable, USA-made Standard trim of the Volkswagen ID.4 EV crossover.
Between the Buzz and the ID.4, it’s clear the German automaker is making a major EV push in North America. Even if sales don’t match Volkswagen’s rosy expectations, the ID. Buzz microbus adds another interesting option for American EV drivers. Here’s what we know about it so far.
6 Quick Facts About the Volkswagen Electric Bus
- The Volkswagen ID. Buzz electric bus seats 7 people and also has plenty of cargo room.
- The European Buzz’s 77 kWh battery offers 264 miles range, but Volkswagen plans a bigger battery for America.
- The ID. Buzz’s interior features include an array of eco-friendly materials.
- Buzz styling cues recall the original Microbus, including a two-tone paint job.
- The company hopes to sell 120,000 of the EVs per year.
- The Volkswagen ID. Buzz EV microbus should be available in 2024.
Volkswagen ID. Buzz Specs
|Seating Capacity||7 People|
|Range||264+ miles, possible 342 miles|
|0-60 times||7.7 seconds (RWD), 5.5 seconds (AWD)|
|Top Speed||90 mph|
|80% Recharge Time||30 minutes (170 kW)|
|Cargo Space||77.9 cubic feet|
|Price||$55,000 to $60,000 (estimated)|
|US Pre-Order Date||2023|
|US Release Date||2024|
The Volkswagen ID. Buzz: Where To Buy
The ID. Buzz deliveries will start in 2024, though preorders may open in 2023 in the USA. Canadian buyers will be able to place reservations in 2022 on VolksKlick shopping platform. Customers can choose, customize, and reserve their VW ID. Buzz microbus online. The reservation fee paid goes toward the purchase price once the EV is eventually ready sometime in 2024. Volkswagen notes it’s necessary to go to a physical dealership to sign documents and take delivery of the Buzz. Some trade-ins are accepted as a way to reduce the microbus’ cost. The company doesn’t say yet what amount it will set for the Buzz reservation fee.
For US customers, the Volkswagen website will likely offer some equivalent reservation process. The Buzz reveal isn’t scheduled until 2023 with a showroom release date of 2024. Volkswagen’s site lets customers choose a “build” for its vehicles and select a dealership for further contact. The ID. Buzz will likely be available at dealerships that carry Volkswagen vehicles, along with shipment to local dealers. There are approximately 600 VW dealerships currently operational.
Qualifying buyers can get financing for Volkswagen EVs directly through the Volkswagen Credit program. Options include leasing the vehicle or purchasing it outright. Purchasers can carry out much of the application process online, moving through a conditional approval. The website then generates printable documents to bring to the dealership to finalize Volkswagen Credit for the lease or purchase.
The History of the Volkswagen ID Buzz: What to Know
The seeds for the ID. Buzz microbus were sown back in the early 50s when Volkswagen developed the first “Kombi” Microbus. Officially known as the Type 2, the Microbus was the world’s first passenger minivan. Dutch businessman Bernardus Miradus Pon, also known as Ben Pon, was the first auto dealer to start exporting Volkswagens outside Germany. Pon had the idea for the Microbus in 1947 and sent a sketch to Volkswagen. German engineers refined the design using a wind tunnel to improve aerodynamics, resulting in the Type 2. The van was actually a bit more streamlined than the Beetle.
The Microbus, soon to receive an upgrade to the new T1 design, was a big hit from the start. People thought the vehicle looked friendly and it was the first affordable passenger vehicle able to carry more occupants than a standard car. As History.com reports, the Microbus got a huge amount of traction in the Sixties with the arrival of the hippie movement. Hippies loved the VW bus both for its low cost and because it could transport a whole group efficiently. Whether going to a rock concert or a political protest, the chunky vehicle got the job done reliably. Like many Volkswagens before and since, it was tough, durable, and had a decently comfortable interior. Owners also decorated its large, flat surfaces with hand-painted murals, peace symbols, slogans, and other individualized art.
The Microbus’ original heyday ended in part because of a political brouhaha over chickens. According to the New York Times, a fight over chicken exports made President Lyndon Johnson retaliate against Germany by putting a 25% tariff on German-made light trucks. This included the Microbus, making it far less affordable and as a result less appealing to the young buyers previously driving its high sales.
The Microbus’ Return
Though the so-called Chicken War made VW Microbus imports stall and eventually tail off, people still liked their Microbuses. A number of original “Barndoors” are still on the road, kept running over many years out of nostalgia and popularity. Volkswagen came up with the ID. Buzz because it thinks the original enthusiasm can be rekindled. It may also believe electric car buyers are the same counterculture types who liked the original “bus.”
VW’s CEO of the passenger car division Ralf Brandstaetter, quoted by Jalopnik, says the “ID. Buzz has been incredibly well received in the U.S. where it’s even a bit of a cult figure.” He also said the original Microbus evokes “a new feeling of automotive freedom, independence and great emotion.” Volkswagen engineered the Buzz to update the Microbus into a modern EV while keeping the original’s spirit and looks.
Jozef Kaban, Volkswagen’s head designer, said in a press release the ID. Buzz was developed directly from the T1. He says the original’s design “DNA” is in the new EV, which will have the Microbus’ charisma. It will also be “timeless, sustainable and yet also extremely functional.”
Volkswagen expects the ID. Buzz to be very popular with sales of at least 120,000 annually.
Volkswagen ID Buzz Microbus: Each Edition
Volkswagen is building at least three models of the ID. Buzz, a short wheelbase (SWB), long wheelbase (LWB), and Cargo. The company will sell the 5-passenger short wheelbase Buzz in Europe. The United States will only get the long wheelbase variant with three seating rows and a total of 7 occupants.
There’s also talk of a bigger battery and thus more range for the USA variant. While this would fit the wide open spaces of America versus the dense cities of Europe, exact details aren’t known so far. Here’s what we do know about the ID. Buzz and its possible variants.
The ID. Buzz captures the look and feel of the original Microbus with its “breadloaf” outline. The new models is more streamlined for aerodynamic efficiency and thus range. But the Buzz’s engineers successfully brought the distinctive aesthetic of the Microbus alive again in a new, fresh generation.
Volkswagen makes the ID. Buzz a front end closely mimicking the original, which the company says “instantly creates positive vibes with its characteristic smile.” The designers mounted large, round VW badges front and rear like on the earlier bus, too. The Buzz comes in a range of solid paint colors but also several two-tone paint jobs. The two-tone paintwork features a white upper half with the lower half yellow, metallic blue, metallic orange, or green.
The Buzz’s builders added some new, high-tech aesthetic flourishes to the interior. Making it clear this is a 21st century EV, the cabin includes 10-color ambient lighting with illumination strips around various interior features.
Power, Range, and Recharging
Volkswagen says the ID. Buzz released in Europe has a range of 264 miles drawing on its 77 kWh battery. The US version should have at least this range, though rumor and a few Volkswagen statements indicate it may feature a larger battery. If a bigger battery comes standard, range could be pushed close to 300 miles, or perhaps even above on higher trims. Motor1 cites sources saying some variants could boast 342 miles of range.
The basic electric motor of the Buzz develops 201 horsepower and 221 ft-lbs of torque. Volkswagen has already tested and released 0-60 mph times, as InsideEVs reports. Rear wheel drive (RWD) only models will reach sixty in 7.7 to 7.8 seconds. The more powerful all-wheel drive (AWD) trims will blast from 0 to 60 in 5.7 to 5.8 seconds.
Much like the Volkswagen ID.4, the Buzz includes 170 kW electrical charging architecture. This means it can’t gain the full benefit of the fastest Level 3 DC chargers with outputs of 350 kW. However, even with recharging capped at 170 kW, it only takes 30 minutes to power up from 5% to 80% charge.
The Volkswagen ID. Buzz’s control and infotainment interface is a 10-inch dashboard mounted touchscreen. Higher trims or optional interior packages replace this with a slightly larger 12-inch screen. Other controls, such as climate control, are broken out to separate buttons for ease and speed of use. The touchscreen is up-to-date but as in other Volkswagen vehicles some reviewers report the menus can be clunky to use.
A full range of driver assistance software and devices is included for safety and smoother driving. Assisted lane changing enables drivers to switch lanes easily and safely using the turn signal. The Microbus EV also features lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control that matches speed to surrounding traffic, and lane departure warnings. The Buzz’s sensors monitor nearby pedestrians and bicyclists, reaction with collision warnings and automatic emergency braking to help avoid accidents.
Volkswagen says it provides wireless updates to ID. Buzz EVs’ software systems.
Interior Space and Convenience
The ID. Buzz EV microbus features eco-friendly materials in its interior, with no leather used anywhere. Recycled plastics and fabrics are used everywhere. Testers, such as those from Jalopnik, say the seats are comfortable in both the first and second rows. The interior includes many storage compartments, folding trays, and a removable center console doubling as an ice scraper. Massaging seats are available, and the interior offers plenty of free space, with good headroom, legroom, and visibility.
Cargo space for the short wheelbase version of the Buzz is 39.6 cubic feet, while the Cargo variant boasts 117 cubic feet. The long wheelbase version, the only one to be initially offered in America, has 77.9 cubic feet with all seating rows behind the first folded down.
Though details are still scanty, Volkswagen also plans a California Camper incarnation of the ID. Buzz. The company intends to release it sometime after 2025 with a dedicated interior layout for camping.
Volkswagen likely won’t release specific pricing for US models of the ID. Buzz until 2023. However, based on the prices charged in Europe, CNET and other sources estimate a $55,000 to $60,000 base price. If Volkswagen builds the ID. Buzz microbus in the USA and uses the same battery source as for the ID.4 EV crossover, it will likely qualify for the full $7,500 Clean Vehicle Credit under the Inflation Reduction Act.
The Public Response
With preoders not yet open in the USA or Canada, the ID. Buzz’s North American demand is hard to determine. However, it’s selling strongly in Europe. Zack’s Equity Research reveals data showing 12,500 of the 15,000 available 2022 reservations already sold out by late September. The German automaker is already beefing up its production lines and schedule to meet expected strong demand.
The Buzz could also be a winner in the US. It doesn’t have many EV vans to compete against currently, and its design and looks tap into strong Microbus nostalgia. Reviewers from professional review and news sites are strongly positive about the ID. Buzz, reporting it’s comfortable, smooth-driving, and spacious. Other than some niggling problems with an over-complicated touchscreen interface, the ID. Buzz EV microbus looks like it could be a strong entry in Volkswagen’s electrified lineup.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Alexander Migl, CC BY-SA 4.0