2017 NAIAS: Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept
Volkswagen has teased the world with two concepts that drew inspiration from the original Type 2, best known to Americans as the “Microbus.” The first concept in 2001 was dubbed with the obvious moniker “Microbus Concept.” A good ten years passed and no return of the beloved Microbus appeared. Instead VW gave us the “Bulli” concept which was a small MPV with styling again reminiscent of the original air-cooled hippie van. Alas, this concept would not come to fruition either and American customers were offered a rebranded Dodge Caravan dubbed Routan instead. Now in 2017 VW debuted the oddly named I.D. BUZZ concept that closely mimics the original Samba bus. I.D. stands for “identity,” “idea,” “individual,” “intelligent” and “iconic design.” BUZZ, VW claims, is a phonetic word play on “bus” and the “buzzing” of the van’s electric drive system. Sorry, Volkswagen, but Bulli was a much more endearing name. Officials insist that the I.D. BUZZ isn’t a retro design, but that the original van’s shape was so iconic and efficient that it is the intuitive package that houses an all-new all-electric vehicle architecture. That may be the case but there is no mistaking the pronounced beltline that dips down toward the front fascia with a massive VW logo proudly displayed front and center. Four little hockey-pucks on the corners of the roof provide sensors for autonomous driving and a 111 kW battery provides energy for propulsion while stowed below the cargo floor. A perfectly flat load floor provides for seemingly limitless interior configurations. While VW hopes this electric, autonomous concept would satisfy forward thinking Americans, many of would just be happy if the storied German brand would just offer this heritage inspired van to fill the van void in its portfolio.