VW has revealed the long-awaited long-wheelbase version of its ID. Buzz electric minibus, with an extra row of seats and starting deliveries next year in the US.
Update: we’ve added some more information we gathered today at the unveiling event this morning in Huntington Beach, CA.
The new ID. The Buzz version is much like the two-row European spec, but with a bit more of just about everything. It has 282 hp as opposed to 201 hp (plus an available 330 hp twin-motor configuration) with a top speed of 99 mph instead of 90 mph, 91 kWh instead of 82 kWh battery, and is a full 10 inches longer. It also gets an openable rear window, unlike the two-row version.
The extra 10 inches all come in the form of a 10-inch longer wheelbase. With a length of 192.4 inches, three-line ID. The Buzz is actually a full 2 feet longer than VW’s original 168-inch-long microbus. All this means more space for people and cargo compared to the two-row version. The extra row of seats takes up some of that space, but the 2nd row can be folded flat and the 3rd row can be removed (and Canada will get a unique long-wheelbase, two-row version, without the third row for those who just want more space) .
Sitting in the car at the unveiling event, there was no shortage of space. At 6′ tall in the second row and with a 6’3″ VW dealer rep behind me, we had no shortage of space in any dimension. 6 adults should have no problem here, and probably 7 as long as at least one of them is thin. VW is planning a 6-seat option, but we haven’t seen it yet.
The longer wheelbase also means space for an additional 9kWh battery. VW has yet to announce the range of the three-row version, although the European spec has 263 miles on the WLTP cycle. While the NA spec has a bigger battery, it’s also a longer and heavier vehicle, and the EPA mileage estimates are significantly lower than the WLTP estimates, so we can’t be sure what the final figure will shake out as. All VW will say is that it will be somewhere between 200-300 miles.
As for charging capacity, the two-row bus has 170 kW of charging, but a VW representative told us that the larger battery will likely enable faster charging, perhaps as high as “around” 200 kW.
The only solid efficiency-related answer VW provided in writing, however, is that the Buzz has a drag coefficient of 0.29, which it calls “very good for a vehicle of this shape” (ie, a brick).
The North American model also comes in three new colors not available on the European spec: Cabana Blue, Metro Silver and Indium Grey.
VW has yet to specify a price for the US version of the ID.Buzz, but it will start in the $65K-$70K range in Europe after tax. While the 3-row version is larger, VW hinted to us in the event that US pricing may even come in under European pricing, but that’s obviously not a promise as nothing has been officially announced yet.
A lower price may be necessary because the ID.Buzz will be built in Germany and imported into the US, meaning it won’t get access to tax credits like the US-built ID.4 does. This also means that the US will not get the truck – it will be subject to the “chicken tax” that keeps foreign trucks out of the US. VW says domestic production could happen, but it is conditional on sales going well (we at Electrek think VW is underestimating the market for this car), and on production timelines.
Regardless, this puts the price near the high end of the electric SUV market, not near the entry level. We mention electric SUVs because there really isn’t another vehicle like this. There’s a plug-in hybrid minivan, the Pacifica Hybrid, and some commercial electric vans like the eSprinter and E-Transit. In the. The Buzz sits somewhere alongside a van and a minivan, with more character than both, so it’s hard to really find a direct competitor to it.
But the closest thing is probably minivans, and this will be much higher priced than the gas-powered entry level of that market, which is in the ~$35K range. That said, Buzz can access some state and local incentives and will have lower operating costs from energy and maintenance.
And as the first all-electric entry on the market, VW probably thinks it can justify a higher price. Anecdotally, there seems to be significant demand out there for a cool minivan-like electric car – especially one that can enable interesting conversion/adventure options.
VW didn’t give us any more news about the upcoming California camper it’s planning, but the long wheelbase gives VW room to work. With all that space and built-in electricity, there should be some really cool options out there for vans (maybe even those looking to stay off the grid with solar panels).
We got some hands-on time with the ID.Buzz at today’s unveiling event in Huntington Beach, and the crowd was pretty excited about the new electric bus.
As someone whose family had a VW Vanagon Westfalia motorhome growing up, the VW bus has special meaning for me. My family went on many adventures in that bus and for all its quirks it was a wonderful vehicle.
And when I got into electric vehicles, I kept thinking what a great platform a bus would be for an electric car, with plenty of room under the floor for batteries to power various camping accessories (stoves, lights, entertainment, etc.).
So when Voltswagen showed off its original ID. Buzz concept and leaning hard into the cool retro style of it all, I was instantly sold on the idea. I, and many others, thought it was too cool.
Then reality set in, and the car ended up looking a little less “cute” than the original retro concept. The finished version got a slightly more boxy shape, losing the distinctive old multi-window look, and the commercial/cargo version even lost the rear windows to just look like a regular van.
But still, between two-tone paint and short overhangs (albeit a less forward driving position than classic buses, a result of modern safety requirements), the ID. Buzz is still more “fun” than a regular van. And it has more character than most minivans, and is less boxy than other vans such as the Sprinter and Transit.
At the event today, VW invited bus owners to show up, and a large number of them filled the parking lot. Many of them were excited to see the bus return but, like me, wished it had more of the original spirit of the classic bus. That said, VW’s presentation leaned hard into classic bus culture, so we hope it can continue to cultivate it and incorporate that spirit into the Buzz.
However, I question why North America can’t have the two-row version. It seems like everyone is releasing a three-row EV this year, as if suddenly every American family gained two or three extra members that their European counterparts didn’t.
Somehow, despite being a foot shorter than today’s offerings, the family’s 180-inch camper comfortably slept the entire American family—and it even had a kitchen, too. And one Westfalia owner I spoke to, who owned the same vehicle I grew up in, said the same thing: he wished they’d brought the smaller version here, and earlier.
VW of America told us they could choose either the short or long wheelbase for the NA, and they chose the long. They believe it would suit the market better, and its myriad customer types.
We have a strange obsession with larger vehicles here, despite their enormous cost to society (eg thousands of pedestrian lives). Some would say that Americans simply demand bigger vehicles, but the problem is more complex than that – it’s largely driven by poor regulation that encourages the upscaling of cars. Fortunately, the EPA has shown signs of wanting to bend the needle back, but somewhat slowly.
Until then, we’re still getting a nice, retro-looking bus that looks like it could get some awesome motorhome features. But some of us may still be waiting for a more micro version of the classic microbus, instead of the maxed-out microbus America gets now.
And there are still some unanswered questions (price, range), but I’m excited to see what VW does with this bus anyway – and to see what kind of cool mods people come up with when they offer potential RV versions and such.
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