- Passenger version of the new 2024 ID.Buzz looks ID.Meh.
- Americans are expecting an electric beach Bus, not a Eurovan-style airport shuttle.
- Don’t worry. VW learned from its Routan mistake. Right?
Slow, ugly and unsafe to drive, the original Volkswagen Type 2 Transporter somehow wormed its way into the American psyche. A pop culture icon, the Microbus (or just Bus) lasted well beyond its expiration date and today enjoys a mystifyingly rabid fan base that Volkswagen has teased with revivals over the last 20 years.
It all started when the automaker rolled out the surprisingly appealing Microbus concept at the 2001 North American International Auto Show. Then, inexplicably, Volkswagen followed up the well-received concept with a VW-badged Dodge Grand Caravan. Called the Routan, this minivan was overall fairly unpleasant and shattered our dreams of a modern, appealing revival of the Microbus.
But Volkswagen loves to tap the nostalgia centers of the human brain, and it was only a matter of time before the Bus idea was revived — this time in the form of the ID.Buzz concept unveiled in 2017. With an electric yellow paint job to complement the fully electric powertrain, the ID.Buzz concept looked like nothing else out there, and VW promised the van would make it to production. Years later, we have our first look at the road-going version, and, well ...
Granted, it's not easy to make a van cool. Aside from a short period of time in the 1970s when boomers were turning them into colorfully painted and shag-carpeted living rooms on wheels — and the current #vanlife movement that makes towering Mercedes-Benz Sprinters objects of lust and desire — vans are for work, not play. Volkswagen is one of the only companies to ever make these practical people carriers even remotely dope — and did so by accident.
New spy photos suggest that the passenger version of the upcoming ID.Buzz won't be cool, hot or anything close to Gucci. Granted, the electric van is still wearing some camo, and the white paint only serves to make it look like a Frigidaire that's been dented on one side, tipped over, and placed on a dolly, but if this thing isn't begging for a Courtyard by Marriott decal treatment, what is?
There is a hint that the ID.Buzz won't be ID.Boring. Check out the wheels. Those babies would look right at home on a Porsche Taycan. If they were bigger. And had less tire sidewall. You get the idea.
When Volkswagen confirmed it would build a production version of the ID.Buzz concept vehicle, the news excited Bus fans around the world. Decked out in two-tone paint with an oversized VW logo between its headlights, vents embedded into the rear roof pillar, and surfboards strapped to the roof, you could almost smell the Coppertone in the air just looking at that silver-over-yellow throwback to 1960s Southern California.
These spy photos reveal the sobering reality of the production version of the ID.Buzz. It's clearly got a job to do, and it doesn't necessarily involve sun, sand and surf.
Don't worry, though. Think of the ID.Buzz as a canvas upon which you can add color, detailing and equipment that will make it the closest thing to a modern Microbus that you've ever been able to buy. Better yet, with available all-wheel drive and up to an estimated 300 horsepower from dual electric motors, it won't be nearly as sluggish or stinky as the Bus you recall so fondly.
To make this project pencil, the ID.Buzz needs to succeed with commercial buyers. Both the cargo and passenger versions offered in Volkswagen's global markets will effectively underwrite the more upscale ID.Buzz that will reportedly land in U.S. showrooms for the 2024 model year. With more equipment and personality, VW can command a higher price for the U.S.-spec ID.Buzz, helping the automaker to finally cash in on both Microbus nostalgia and Instagrammers pretending to live out of their vans full time.
Putting the snark aside, the latest round of spy photos shows that with the production version of the ID.Buzz, VW is adhering as closely as possible to the 2017 concept vehicle. The styling elements and proportions are largely faithful to what VW has promised, while a tall driving position, expansive glass area and stubby nose will almost certainly give the new ID.Buzz the same airy sensation you get from behind the wheel of a classic Bus.
Best of all, though, electric drive, modern safety engineering and the latest driving assistance technology will make the ID.Buzz substantially better than the original. Sign us up for the Santa Monica Edition, please.