Volkswagen's new ID.Buzz has plenty to look forward to.
The all-new Volkswagen ID.Buzz has just been revealed in production form, and it's quite special. With a contemporary take on classic styling cues, loads of space, numerous seating configurations, and the promise of good handling, this is looking like a great genesis for the electric multi-purpose van (MPV). More exciting electric vehicles will follow soon enough, including a halo EV called Project Trinity. But for now, let's take a look at some of the reasons we think the new electric bus will be well-received by the market. Along with a prominent and respected badge, the 2024 ID.Buzz comes with some great ideas, so here are our five favorites.
Too many designers fall into the trap of thinking that, for a car to be retro, it has to maintain the exact lines and shapes of the original vehicle, just with newer technology in the lighting clusters and construction processes. Volkswagen has shown that you don't have to make a carbon copy of a decades-old design to reference its heritage. It would have been very easy for VW to take the easy route and give the ID.Buzz round headlights, fake bumpers, and small vertical taillights. Instead, the carmaker is making us more familiar with the design of ID.-branded EVs by adding contemporary styling cues, especially in the face and the trendy taillights that stretch across the rear.
The "V-shaped hood" design is retro without being tacky, and the two-tone color scheme is old-school in philosophy and modern in hue, and monotone finishes don't look bad either. In addition, the option of a two-tone interior adds a premium but fun feel. Simply put, this is clean and classy, giving diehard fans something to get teary-eyed about and newcomers to the brand a stylish look that is neither shouty nor suppressive. Excellent work, VW.
The ID.Buzz runs on the Volkswagen Group's Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB) platform, with its 12-module, floor-mounted battery. With the heaviest part of the vehicle in its lowest possible position, this bus should handle very well. While the original T1 Transporter was too slow to fall over, the ID.Buzz is too well balanced to fall over - or at least we hope that's the case; we'll be able to confirm that after some independent handling tests. But thanks to short overhangs and a turning circle of just 36.4 feet (comparable to that of a regular VW Golf), we expect that this will be easy to park, relatively fun to drive, and hard to fault overall. Keep in mind, however, that America is getting a long-wheelbase model, so we'll have more weight and a bigger footprint to contend with.
Many manufacturers have pledged to clean up every part of vehicle production, and Volkswagen is no different. The ID.Buzz is completely free of animal-sourced leather and instead makes use of more eco-friendly materials. For example, the steering wheel is upholstered in a type of polyurethane that "looks just as high quality as leather and provides a similar feel," says the automaker. This shows that VW hasn't simply put any old cheap recycled material into this vehicle and has focused on the details, like touchpoints, that make you feel like you're in a high-quality cabin. The environmental focus continues in areas you don't typically touch too, with the seat covers, floor coverings, and roof liner all made from recycled material. In the future, fibers made from 10% recycled ocean plastic and 90% recycled PET bottles will be made into a fabric called Seaqual yarn, and this will soon be made available for the market. Saving the world is about more than just an electric powertrain, and VW shows that you don't need an expensive new Mercedes-EQ product to feel good about your choice of transport.
As is typical of just about any new car these days, the 2024 Volkswagen ID.Buzz comes loaded with safety tech. All the usual features are there - Front Assist, Lane Assist, and Dynamic Road Sign Display are standard in Europe, with Side Assist, Travel Assist, Emergency Assist, Park Assist, Light Assist, Area View, and adaptive cruise control among the options. However, Volkswagen is innovating too, and as we saw on vehicles like the ID.4, ID.Light is one of the cleverest ideas we've seen in a while.
Instead of just a chime or a warning on the screens forcing you to look down, ID.Light is an LED strip in the dashboard that can illuminate in various colors and flow in different directions. This allows the car to communicate with you via your peripheral vision, meaning your eyes stay on the road. It may seem super simple, and it is, but the best features are generally those you don't need a college degree to use or understand.
The last item on our list isn't particularly new - Ford and others have similar systems - but that doesn't make it any less impressive or useful. Bi-directional charging, or vehicle-to-grid charging, allows one to stabilize the grid in the event of a power outage, keeping the household connected to electricity. It's also great for camping and other adventure activities, giving you access to electricity and the appliances that use it even in the most remote areas. And speaking of adventure, Volkswagen will eventually introduce a Camper California version. The only reason it isn't out already is that the traditional version is such a great seller, but you can bet that it will come eventually, likely with loads of novel features.
In summary, the 2024 Volkswagen ID.Buzz is not revolutionary, but it is a game-changer. It's an electric vehicle that focuses on being a good vehicle just as much as it does on being a good environmental advocate, and that's something that will make first-time EV buyers feel at home. That's how VW will attract lifelong customers. That's how VW will succeed in creating a cultural icon, just as it did in 1950.