Volkswagen Group is bringing back the microbus, but it will be electric and have models for both the consumer and commercial markets.
The German automaker said Saturday that a production version of its the I.D. BUZZ concept van will go on sale in 2022 in North America, Europe and China.
VW said it wants the Buzz to channel the same California surf vibe of the automaker’s 1960s microbuses, which are still popular restoration projects in surf cities such as Huntington Beach and Malibu.
“The Microbus has long been part of the California lifestyle. Now we're bringing it back by reinventing it as an electric vehicle,” Herbert Diess, Volkswagen’s chief executive, said at the Pebble Beach, Calif., Concours d’Elegance classic and luxury car show.
The production model will have its batteries mounted in the vehicle floor, an increasingly common architecture for electric vehicles, including all of the Tesla Inc. models. It will also incorporate many design ideas from the concept car, including multi- variable seating, interactive connectivity and highly automated driving.
When it introduced the concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this year, the automaker said the van would be powered by two electric motors – one attached to the front axle and one at the rear – to create a powertrain that makes 369 total horsepower and boasts 270 miles of electric range.
VW said the electric drive components — electric motor and power electronics — won't take up as much space as a conventional internal combustion engine vehicle. That gives the van a long wheelbase with short overhangs, allowing for a spacious interior.
“The vehicle looks like a compact commercial van on the outside, even though it offers the generous interior space of a large SUV,” Diess said.
It also will be offered as a commercial van, called the I.D. Buzz Cargo, said Eckhard Scholz, who heads VW’s commercial vehicles division.
“This is an ideal concept for an electric van, particularly for delivering packages and goods to the inner cities,” Scholz said.
Such a vehicle will be able to meet increasingly stringent emissions regulations globally. Both France and England have announced plans to ban the use of internal combustion engines in light vehicles by 2040.
The cargo model also will have significant self-driving capability, he said.
Volkswagen is eager to embrace electric technology after fallout from the Dieselgate controversy, which revealed the company had for years installed cheat devices in diesel vehicles that allowed them to bypass sensors and emit up to 40 times the allowed levels of nitrogen oxide.