Seven months after its world premiere at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the zero-emission I.D. BUZZ van returns to the USA. Shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California, the electric concept van forms a bridge between the legendary origins of the Volkswagen brand and its electrifying future. The I.D. BUZZ – together with the I.D. and I.D. CROZZ concepts – is a Volkswagen of tomorrow which gives a face to electric mobility. These are vehicles whose crystal clear design reflects a transformation – a transformation of the brand and its models. Dr Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management Volkswagen Brand: "From 2020 onwards, the Volkswagen brand will consistently expand its spectrum of electric vehicles, and the current electric vehicles – our e-up! and e-Golf models – will be joined by all-new and emissions-free production vehicles with long operating ranges. It is the beginning of an electric mobility offensive. We intend to sell one million electric vehicles per year by 2025." In California, Volkswagen demonstrates how multifaceted the electric mobility of tomorrow can be with the I.D. BUZZ concept – an all-wheel drive space wonder with electric motors at the front and rear axles, a fully automated driving mode (’I.D. Pilot’), as well as a new generation of display elements and controls.
The Microbus a.k.a. Bulli is a cult favorite in the USA and Europe. Conceptual and technical product innovations – regardless of their subject 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. North Americans refer to this versatile vehicle as the Microbus, and the Germans call it the ‘Bulli’, 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 I.D. BUZZ were on the roads right now, it would not be by itself for long: If you park a T1, T2, T3, T4, T5 or T6 anywhere in Europe between London and Lisbon, you can be sure that another Microbus will soon be parked next to it – this is an exclusive community. The same holds true in the USA: especially in Pacific hotspots like Carmel-by-the-Sea, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and San Diego, there are parking areas teeming with Microbuses from the older T1, T2, T3 or T4 generations (while the T5 and T6 stay in Europe). The I.D. BUZZ would blend in perfectly among its predecessors on both sides of the Atlantic as a van of a new era.
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."
New bus, new name. The name ‘I.D. BUZZ’ is indeed a made-up word, but it was hardly an arbitrary choice. I.D. stands for ‘Identity,’ ‘Idea,’ ‘Individual,’ ’Intelligent’ and ’Iconic Design’. BUZZ, on the other hand, is a phonetic word play on ’bus’ and refers to the quiet ‘humming’ of the drive system. This all fits in perfectly with the technologically progressive and design-focused approach of the concept vehicle.
Travel up to 600 kilometers. Charge while drinking a cappuccino. Then the journey continues.
First autonomously driving van. "The I.D. BUZZ is a van of the next generation. It is based on the new all-electric architecture, and it offers comfort and plenty of space for travel. Its electric driving range is up to 270 miles AER, or 600 km NEDC," says Dr Frank Welsch, Volkswagen Member of the Board of Management responsible for Development. The I.D. BUZZ gets its energy either inductively or via charging station.
Dr Welsch continues: "The overall concept of the I.D. BUZZ points the way to the future. This concept vehicle is the world's first multi-variable electric van to be equipped with a fully automated driving mode. It carries Microbus’ feeling of freedom over to a completely new era of mobility."
Indeed, as the vehicle of a new era, the I.D. BUZZ conceptually redefines parameters for ’drive system’, ‘spaciousness’ and ’comfort’. Some facts that showcase this:
- Extremely long wheelbase of 3,300 mm.
- Front body structure which, along with offering top safety properties, also enables a wide turning angle of the front wheels and – in combination with the steerable rear axle – a sensationally small turning circle of just 10 meters.
- Low-profile lithium-ion battery integrated in the floor reinforces the basic vehicle structure, lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity, produces ideal axle load distribution and low lateral acceleration.
- Front suspension has stiff, decoupled subframe and integrated drive unit when equipped with 4MOTION (all-wheel drive).
- Multi-link rear suspension has integrated drive unit and decoupled subframe at rear axle.
- Suspension layout offers optimal handling and ideal acoustics.
- Air suspension at the rear axle and damper control at both axles deliver maximum comfort.
- Wheels 780 mm in diameter and 235/45 R22 tires offer optimal ride comfort.
‘I.D. Pilot’ drive mode offers a look at the year 2025
Fully automated driving functionality. It has only been four months since Volkswagen presented the little brother of the I.D. BUZZ at the Paris International Motor Show: the I.D. It too is a revolution. A compact electric car with operating ranges of up to 600 km that will launch in 2020. It is the first car based on the all-electric architecture to go into series production. And it is the first Volkswagen concept car that can drive fully autonomously. The new I.D. BUZZ is now the first van that makes this possible: with just a soft touch, the steering wheel retracts flush into the cockpit, and the I.D. BUZZ transitions from manual operation to the fully autonomous ‘I.D. Pilot’ mode (conceivable starting in 2015). In this mode, the steering wheel is decoupled from the steering gear via a newly developed steering column system. The driver is then able to turn their seat towards the rear, facing their fellow travelers. Laser scanners, ultrasonic sensors, radar sensors, area view cameras and a front camera acquire information about the surroundings, and other traffic data is received via the cloud.
Information is projected into virtual space by augmented reality
Navigation with virtual symbols in a real space. The classic cockpit no longer exists in the I.D. BUZZ. In its place, the van uses its AR Head-up Display to project key information into the driver’s visual field – that is, onto the road virtually in 3D. AR stands for Augmented Reality, a technology that shows electronically generated images in real space. Other information is shown on a tablet that is used as a display; this portable tablet can be used to operate infotainment and climate control functions, for instance. Capacitive touchpads are also built into the four door trim panels and on the outer sides of the third seat row. They are used to individually control functions such as those of the six-zone climate control system.
Steering wheel becomes touch-sensitive steering wheel. The main driving controls are located on the steering wheel. Its inner area is not equipped with the spokes or button switches that are usual these days. Instead, it has a type of touchpad with capacitive sensor arrays – which turns the classic steering wheel into a multifunction touch-sensitive steering wheel.
Space for up to eight persons and all sorts of bikes and boards
An all-round vehicle for a new era. Space utilization of the concept vehicle with room for up to eight persons is better than in any other electric vehicle. An excursion with two families over the weekend? Not a problem with the I.D. BUZZ. A gig with the band in another city? No problem. A vacation trip with bikes and boards? No problem. Driving to a business meeting with colleagues who need to prepare on the way? This too is no problem with the multi-variable seating layout and interactive networking of the I.D. BUZZ. Thanks to the extended XL-all-electric architecture, this concept offers extraordinary space dimensions for its class. Furthermore, the flexible interior of the I.D. BUZZ – which measures 4,942 mm in length, 1,976 mm in width and 1,963 mm in height – is even larger than that of the current best-selling Multivan (T6) from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles in Europe.
Silent Running. Yet the I.D. BUZZ is not only a space giant. Its technical concept makes it one of the world's most comfortable cars. A practically silent drive system. An extremely long wheelbase of 3,300 mm. Between the axles is the battery, which is located in the vehicle floor. It lowers the vehicle’s center of gravity and enables ideal weight distribution. The suspension of the I.D. BUZZ with its damper control also delivers premium class comfort.
Clean performance with power from two motors
The I.D. BUZZ is dynamic and can be charged quickly. The zero-emission all-wheel drive system with its system power of 275 kW is a perfect fit for the dynamic character of the I.D. BUZZ. One electric motor at the front axle and one at the rear each deliver a power output of 150 kW. Torque is distributed between the two axles by an ‘electric propshaft’. With this motor layout, the version of the I.D. BUZZ being introduced in Pebble Beach can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in less than 5 seconds; its top speed is limited to 160 km/h (99 mph). The van’s battery (energy capacity: 111 kWh) can be charged to 80 percent of its capacity within 30 minutes (with the Combined Charging System (CCS) or via the inductive charging interface). As an alternative, the battery can be charged from any conventional household outlet and at charging stations. The configuration with all-wheel drive is just one of several conceivable versions. Thanks to the all-electric architecture, it would also be possible to equip the I.D. BUZZ with a rear-wheel drive producing 200 kW of power and a somewhat smaller battery, depending on the region and purpose of use. In this configuration as well, the I.D. BUZZ van is an excellent performer, accelerating to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.0 seconds. In practical use, the battery capacity for this van ranges from 83 kWh to the aforementioned 111 kWh.