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Volkswagen unveils plans for autonomous electric Microbus I.D. BUZZ.

German automaker announces ambitious spearhead for future EVs at Detroit motor show

Following an announcement at this week’s North American International Motor Show, Volkswagen looks set to reboot its iconic Type 2 camper van for the 21st century. Nearly 70 years after the original hit the road, the German company’s comprehensive press release promises a fully autonomous, all-electric update with incredibly impressive specs.

The I.D. BUZZ will work on VW’s new MEB platform, a more flexible modular component system specifically aimed at EVs, and as such the battery size and range predictions are big: 111kWh and 270 miles respectively. For an EV that would be 16 feet long and over 6 feet in height, this is especially remarkable. These predictions would also allow for a zippy acceleration time of 0-60mph in 5 seconds.

By the time the Microbus goes into production, VW envisions a super-fast 150kW DC charging system that could reach 80% in just 30 minutes. Moreover, the company hopes to implement a fully autonomous driving system within 10 years, which would allow the spacious vehicle to operate almost as a mobile living room – or even bedroom – if the company’s designs are anything to go by. All in all, these promises add up to a very tantalising prospect indeed, if only on paper for the time being.


The major significant draw back to VW’s ambitious announcement, however, is time. The company doesn’t expect to produce a concept until 2020, which means that it will be at least 2022 by the time one can get their hands on a Microbus. Add to this a probable gap of another 3 years before the much-vaunted autonomy is available –VW failed to provide any evidence of physical self-driving equipment- and the optimism of the press release really does begin to look like so much talk.

Sceptics point out that VW has consistently pushed back production estimates for other EV concepts, such as the similar BUDD-e Microbus concept, which was tentatively planned for release in 2019 last year. “Five years away” has always been an easier thing to say than to do when it comes to developing technology.

Nonetheless, the designs represent an especially exciting direction for a major automaker such as Volkswagen, and if they can follow up on the hype of this announcement, five years may not seem like such a long time after all.



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