Volkswagen will revive the spirit of its classic Microbus in a future electric vehicle based on the I.D. Buzz concept the company showed earlier this year at the Detroit auto show.
VW head Herbert Diess confirmed the Microbus’s return at a recent European event, where he said the company wants to capitalize on the emotional connection many VW loyalists have to the brand’s heritage models, as evidenced by the continued popularity of the modern Beetle.
Another VW exec, design chief Oliver Stefani, said the decision to go ahead with a production version of the I.D. Buzz was reinforced by the availability of the brand’s MEB platform, which was designed specifically for electric vehicles.
Stefani said that platform, along with an EV’s powertrain packaging efficiencies – namely the lack of a gasoline engine and associated transmission – will allow VW’s designers to stick with the proportions that will make the new vehicle recognizable as a spiritual successor to the Microbus.
He also said the forthcoming EV will benefit from interior space “a class higher” than would be typical for the vehicle’s footprint. The battery pack will live beneath the floor, powering an electric motor at each axle and leaving space for cargo compartments front and rear.
Stefani went on to suggest the platform’s flexibility would open up the possibility of a family of vehicles based on the I.D. Buzz, like those spawned by the original Microbus, such as a light-duty pickup and a camper.
The I.D. Buzz sported a wheelbase of about 3,300 mm, long enough to provide space for eight seats, a lounge-style layout with adjustable rear chairs and a driver’s seat that can swivel 180 degrees. That function predicts a future of autonomous driving, when the person behind the wheel can select a self-guided mode that would allow him or her to socialize with passengers.
VW has said the MEB architecture will also underpin future electric versions of more mainstream models like the Golf, Tiguan, and Passat.