Microbus is a legend in the USA and Europe. Conceptual and technical product innovations – no matter in what area– are inconceivable without a design that is just as innovative. This is why with the I.D. BUZZ, Volkswagen is reinterpreting a basic automotive design format: the van. In all likelihood the most familiar van design is that of the Volkswagen icon that took on the unofficial name VW Bus – a vehicle of many names. The Germans refer to this versatile vehicle as the ‘Bulli’, and North Americans call it the Microbus, while those in the know refer to the various generations of the best-selling van using the designations T1 through T6. The ‘T’ here stands for Transporter.
A global community. If the Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ concept were a real car on the roads right now, it would never be by itself for long: From London to Lisbon, a VW Bus owner in Europe is always part of an exclusive community. The same is also true in the USA. Especially in Pacific hotspots like San Francisco, Santa Barbara and San Diego, there are parking areas teeming with vehicles from the older Microbus generations. Although the I.D. BUZZ is a new era van, it would blend in perfectly with its predecessors.
Back from the future. Klaus Bischoff, Volkswagen Head of Design: "In the I.D. BUZZ we have not created a retro design on 22-inch wheels; rather, we have come up with the logical next step forward for what is in all likelihood the most successful van design in the world. The entire design is extremely clean with its homogeneous, clear surfaces and monolithic silhouette." Oliver Stefani, Head of Volkswagen Exterior Design also sees it precisely like this: "The I.D. BUZZ is a vision of the original Volkswagen van projected into the future. But it retains some of the influential style elements that are familiar and enjoyed by Volkswagen drivers around the globe." Klaus Bischoff adds: "The future and origins of Volkswagen design DNA combine here to create a new icon."
High-tech front end. The best example of the interplay of familiar and new elements of the DNA chain is the front end with its characteristic ‘V’ and the very likable ‘face’ – clearly a Bulli, or Microbus, but a completely new interpretation of it. Oliver Stefani: "Instead of the round headlights used in the original model, in designing the I.D. BUZZ we opted for slender LED systems, which not only turn night into day, but also interactively communicate – as eyes – with drivers and pedestrians." Similar to the I.D., the bumpers also integrate a honeycomb pattern of matte aluminum; the outer honeycomb sections are illuminated.
Every detail re-interpreted. Also defining its style are the extremely short and concise body overhangs. This applies equally to the roofline with its charismatic front overhang and three stylized air vent slots in the rear roof pillars – a small tribute to the T1. Each detail has, however, been re-interpreted and implemented in a new context.
Wrap-around ambient lights. A visually important feature and an expression of special attention to detail is the wrap-around ambient lighting that is basically the ‘chrome trim’ of a new era. It is actually an accent strip made of matte aluminum, but it is embedded in an ‘undercut’. Designers call this a sharp undercut. Indirect ambient lighting has been integrated into this full wrap-around undercut, which also forms the ‘V’ of the front hood. When it is dark outside, this creates a unique night design together with the two VW logos (front and rear) that are also backlit and the lighting elements in the front bumpers.
Charismatic rear design. The I.D. BUZZ is also unmistakable from the rear. Here the slender full-LED lights and large painted surfaces make up the iconic design. Striking: the trunk lid that extends far down into the bumper and the resulting low load sill height of just 600 mm. Incidentally, thanks to its compact electric drive, the I.D. BUZZ not only offers a luggage compartment at the rear (660 to 4,600 liters), but also one at the front (200 liters). All of the lids and doors feature a power opening function. Opening of the trunk lid, front doors and rear sliding doors is initiated by a sensor solution from outside the vehicle. Thanks to the Digital Key, all the user needs to do is hold his or her hand over a marked area for entry.
Insignia of electric mobility. There are clear design parallels to the I.D. shown in Paris. The front LED lights, wrap-around LED tail lights, bumpers homogeneously integrated into the body, side sills stylistically raised in the middle of the door area, laser scanners on the roof and the look of alloy wheels – all of these elements combine to form the design insignia of the new Volkswagen electric mobility.
Two-tone paint as tribute to the iconic T1. There is hardly any other car in the world on which classic two-tone paint looks better than on the Bulli / Microbus. That is why it is a ‘must’ for the new I.D. BUZZ as well. The car is painted in Silver Metallic above the concise seam that integrates ambient lighting. The surfaces beneath are painted in Cyber Yellow Pearl Effect. The yellow hue is also found on the sidewalls of the tires (235/45 R22). The semi-polished 22-inch alloy wheels are painted in Galvano Gray Metallic.
Light as a means of communication. The I.D. BUZZ communicates with its surroundings via the LED lighting at the front end. The LED light of the headlights interactively mimics the gestures of the human eye (interactive spotlight); this is how the headlights interact with other road users. The concept vehicle masters these light scenarios:
- Parking. When all systems of the I.D. BUZZ are shut down, it looks from the front as if its ‘eyes’ are closed. When the I.D. BUZZ is parked, just a narrow, small LED strip is visible in the headlights.
- Opening. When the I.D. is ‘awakened’, it greets its driver and passengers with a 360° light show. First, the Volkswagen logos (at the front end and in the trunk lid) light up. Next comes the wrap-around ambient lighting. In the final phase of this light show, the I.D. BUZZ opens its ‘eyes’.
- Driving. The Volkswagen logos, wrap-round ambient lighting, LED daytime running light strips and LED headlights are always active while driving. As the car accelerates, the ‘eyes’ adapt to the higher speed by adopting a more dynamic light signature.
- Automated. A distinctive feature of the fully automated driving mode is that the laser scanners in the roof are now extended and illuminated. As the car speeds up, the LED ‘eyes’ also look ahead in this mode, giving the car a sportier appearance.
- Interaction. In addition, the ‘eyes’ are interactive in the fully automated driving mode. If the I.D. BUZZ wants to turn, for instance, the LED headlights look in the direction the car is going to turn. That is not all: if the van detects people at the side of the road it looks at them. By this type of interaction, the Volkswagen van alerts pedestrians and cyclists to its presence.