OVER the last several years Volkswagen has been playing a bit of a teaser game with its redoubtable Microbus, rolling out a variety of concept cars to keep fans, old hippies and Microbus wannabees guessing.
The company pulled the wraps off yet another Microbus iteration at the recent Detroit Motor Show – the North American International Auto Show or NAIAS – but this time around things have changed.
For starters, Volkswagen dispensed with the usual internal combustion engine and conventional transmission, replacing them with an electric power unit and all-wheel drive.
Then it did away with the driver (in a nice way, of course), turning its zero-emissions Microbus into an autonomous vehicle.
The ID Microbus for the future, incidentally, is called Buzz, the name referencing not only the ‘bus' part of ‘Microbus' but also the sound made by the electric motor. ID? That can stand for ‘Identity', ‘Idea', Individual', ‘Intelligent' or ‘Iconic Design' (we like that one the best).
Buzz is part of VW's plan to be a maker of fully-electrified cars by 2020, a plan announced a few years ago and says the Microbus concept links the brand's origins to its future.
For those who want the all-important performance details, Buzz uses a 111kWh battery to power-up two electric motors (one on each axle) which combine to produce around 270 kilowatts of power, enough to move it from standstill to 100km/h in a claimed 5.0 seconds.
Its range is an impressive 435 kilometres and the battery can be charged to 80 per cent of its capacity in a mere 30 minutes, impressive indeed and welcomed by those contemplating long drives.
And Buzz is, to all intents and purposes, production-based, built on VW's Modular Electric Drive (MEB) platform with a new age take on the classic design.
Like the original Microbus, Buzz can carry eight people. Unlike the old Microbus, it has two luggage storage areas, a legacy of having no engine, transmission or fuel tank to take up space and a battery pack that forms most of the floorpan.
Other changes to bring the Microbus concept into the 21st century? Regular circular headlights have been replaced with slender LED units which interact with other road users and pedestrians and, of course, its autonomous driving capability which, at the touch of a button, pulls the steering wheel into the instrument panel.
When autonomous mode is chosen the Buzz drives itself using a combination of ultrasonic and radar sensors and surround cameras.
That allows the driver to become a passenger, turning the driver's seat through 180 degrees to join-in the discussion group and if that doesn't yell ‘Party Bus!' then nothing does.
It gets better, says Volkswagen. As a fully connected car, Buzz will be able to recognise any of its passengers as long as they have a Volkswagen User ID and a special VW smartphone app, things that will allow each person to individualise their experiences through the vehicle's wide variety of infotainment functions.
When will these systems be available for general use? Volkswagen says we can expect this technology to be a key part of its cars in 2020.
Electric car uptake, it predicts, should be at the point where it is selling around one million electric cars globally by 2025.
One of its offerings will, hopefully, be a new 21st century Microbus.
Can't wait for the Buzz? Come in and explore the new Volkswagen Multivan!
The Multivan has been the perfect travel companion for over 65 years, accompanying drivers through the endless demands of everyday life and leisure time. Versatility, quality and perfection right down to the smallest detail – this is what makes the Multivan so enticing.
Captivating even in its sixth generation, the new Multivan is your home on the road no matter where your journey takes you. Distinctive on the outside and inviting on the inside, this is a vehicle for the adventurer that appreciates the journey as much as the destination.
Inviting and versatile, with seating for 7 with up to 5 child seat anchor points, the new Multivan makes you feel at home during any trip, both near and far.
Stretch your legs or pack more luggage. Thanks to the innovative seat rail system all seats in the passenger area, plus the convenient multifunction table, if you have one, can be repositioned.
Packed with everything you need for any trip, the Multivan is ready for whatever crosses your path.
Sources in this article:
Want more stories?
Thanks! You have been subscribed successfully.