VW I.D. Buzz mule hidden beneath Transporter body

Published: 12 February 2021

► Electric Microbus nears reality
► Production model will be followed by a cargo van
► 201bhp electric motor, range up to 342 miles

The reality of an all-electric VW Microbus is nearly here. Spy photographers have captured a test mule for the Volkswagen ID. Buzz performing cold-weather testing in Sweden.

The prototype is hidden underneath a VW Transporter T6.1 body, but it’s shorter and wider with lower ground clearance and smaller overhangs front and rear. Its powertrain is also given away by a large ‘Elektrofahrzeug’ sticker on the door – the German for ‘Electric Vehicle’.

VW ID. Buzz - testing rear

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What can we expect from the production ID. Buzz?

Rumoured to be badged as the ID.7 when it launches in 2022, the ID.Buzz looks set to combine the practicality of a large electric van – such as the Vauxhall Vivaro-e Life – with a bit of the retro charm we all know from the iconic Microbus.

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Expect 7 or 8 seats set across three rows, with the option to fold or remove them as needed. The ID. Cargo, based on the same platform, will feature an unobstructed load area and rival other electric vans like the Mercedes-Benz eVito.

Mechanically, it’ll be very similar to the existing ID.3 and ID.4 models. Based on VW’s modular electric architecture, expect a 204bhp electric motor and a range of well in excess of 300 miles. VW’s hinted at battery capacities up to a huge 111kWh to facilitate this.

We’re also expecting to see optional AWD available from a twin-motor setup.

VW ID. Buzz - testing interior

Spy shots show that the ID. Buzz mule features a similar dash layout to its existing ID siblings – namely, a small, tablet-style display forming the instrument panel, rather than the more typical Virtual Cockpit layout we’ve seen on the Transporter.

What was the VW ID. Buzz concept?

2017 VW I.D. Buzz concept - front three quarter

Debuted at the 2017 Detroit Motor Show in passenger form and in Cargo form at the 2018 IAA Commercial Vehicles show, the ID. Buzz showed off the flexibility of VW’s MEB electric vehicle platform.

Intended to show a close-to-production model, the concept’s retro-futuristic body and wheel-at-each-corner stance both evokes the old Microbus and shows its vision for the future of the ID. sub-brand.

It also represented VW’s willingness to reposition its brand identity following the then still-raw ‘dieselgate’ emissions scandal of 2015.

‘The Volkswagen brand’s big electric offensive begins in the year 2020 with a completely new vehicle architecture,’ said Dr. Herbert Diess, VW board chairman.

2017 VW I.D. Buzz concept - interior

‘That is when we will be launching an entirely new generation of fully connected, all-electric vehicles on the market. By 2025 we want to be selling one million of these vehicles annually. We are making electric mobility the new trademark of Volkswagen.’

Those promises were actually kept, with the ID.3 electric hatchback launching at the tail-end of 2020.

What was so good about the ID. Buzz concept?

When it debuted, it had some pretty impressive specs:

  • Seats eight
  • Pure EV, all-wheel-drive. Two electric motors, one front, one rear.
  • Total system output 275kW (equivalent to 368bhp)
  • VW projects a speedy 5sec 0-62mph time, with top speed governed to 99mph.
  • 270-mile range
  • Augmented reality head-up display

VW also claimed the ID. Buzz would be an autonomous van. A combination of lasers, radars, ultrasonic sensors and cameras enable the concept to theoretically take care of driving all by itself.

In full robo-drive mode, which VW calls ‘ID. Pilot’, the driver’s seat can be turned 180 degrees to face the rear passengers.

2017 VW I.D. Buzz concept - interior

A slight push on the bizarrely shaped steering wheel causes it to retract into the dashboard, and decouple from the steering gear. Touching the wheel or pedals deactivates autonomous mode and allows the driver to reassume control.

VW says a fully autonomous drive mode of this type would be ‘conceivable starting in 2025.’

By Tom Wiltshire

Bauer Automotive staff writer; Cotswoldian, Peugeot enthusiast, SsangYong Turismo apologist