Remember the all-electric Microbus successor Volkswagen was chirping about a few years ago? If you don’t, you can be forgiven. Despite the model receiving loads of press after the automaker acknowledged it would indeed be coming to North America, reports on its progress started becoming incredibly rare by 2019. With #VanLife trending inside the United States, VW would be an absolute fool not to start offering something trendy to fit the bill and the horribly named I.D. Buzz seems an ideal candidate. However, it feels as though the company has forgotten our market while it preps the model for Europe.
There’s reportedly no reason to worry. Volkswagen has confirmed that the model will be showing up on our shores in 2023 after it’s made a splash across the pond. But there will be a few stipulations.
The Buzz is supposed to show up in Europe in a multitude of styles, including stripped-down commercial variants. However, Volkswagen commercial vehicle chief Carsten Intra recently confirmed with Car & Driver that the van will only show up here as the long-wheelbase variant. While understandable, considering the U.S. and Canadian preference for larger vehicles, not selling commercial models that could be more easily modified into conversion vans feels like a mistake.
Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, custom vans were all the rage in the United States. Economic uncertainty had convinced many to transform their vehicles into a distinctive mobile living space and there was a sense of needing to hit the road and see what’s out there in the midst of a cultural malaise that set in after America finally came off its post-war high. We seem to be laying the groundwork for a repeat event, with many young adults becoming suddenly interested in the idea of being able to put everything they need into a van so they can relocate at a moment’s notice or temporarily live off the grid when urban life becomes too much.
While this could fizzle out overnight, any manufacturer that fails to jump on the trend (should it take off) will probably regret it. Besides, Volkswagen is in an enviable position of soon being able to furnish an all-electric van in addition to its internal-combustion equivalents. Your author has long hoped the German automaker would sell its Transporter here and believes the lack of a US-spec California camper van is criminal. But the I.D. Buzz (please rename it) will likely work for many who don’t need to get quite so far out into the wilderness as others.
Details on what exactly we’re getting remain scant. Base model vans are supposed to rear-wheel-drive with about 200 horsepower. Though VW does intend on offering an all-wheel-drive version somewhere around 300 hp. We’re mainly concerned with the batter, however, as Volkswagen has run into repeated bad luck with suppliers and produced cars offering less-than-impressive ranges. Fortunately, the Buzz’s flat floor is supposed to make equipping oversized packs quite simple and the automaker has suggested the model’s power pack would come in a few flavors.
Expect not to hear much more on the van’s progress for the rest of 2021 and then an explosion of information ahead of its 2022 launch in Europe.