Iconic Volkswagen Camper Is Back – And It’s Green
Volkswagen has announced plans to bring back its iconic camper – but not quite how you’d imagine.
The VW camper bus. You’ve got to be hiding under a rock if you don’t have an instant mental image when you hear those words. Commonly referred to as the Volkswagen Type 2, those air cooled, rear engine novelties were everywhere. For many people, and today’s VW enthusiasts, the Westfalia camper van was the top of the line.
The VW camper continued on with other names. The Vanagon and others continued, but that old bus of the 60s and 70s still captures the minds and hearts of campers everywhere. The van still has a cult-like following with clubs and on-line communities.
According to dpa Berlin, Volkswagen has confirmed plans to start making an all-electric version of its classic VW Microbus to be called ID Buzz.
The iconic vehicle is likely to appeal to modern-day hippies as much as electric vehicle fans, and its refreshment has been a long time coming, with numerous concept versions shown down the years. VW has pencilled in 2022 for the start of production. The company said the decision to go ahead was prompted by a large number of letters and emails from prospective buyers who want to see the bus built. The ID Buzz combines the genes of the original Microbus with a funky, modern look. It will slot into a new range of electrically driven ID vehicles after a pure-electric ID Golf hatchback is unveiled in 2019.
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess outlined plans for the ID Buzz at the recent Pebble Beach concours event in California. “The Microbus, which is what the (German) Bulli is called in America, has always been part of the California lifestyle. Now we’re bringing it back by developing Volkswagen’s next e-generation and by reinventing the Bulli as an electric vehicle,” said Diess.
Volkswagen says it was mainly targeting the markets in North America, Europe and China with both the ID Buzz, and the ID family overall. “The vehicle is an important pillar in Volkswagen’s electric drive initiative and carries the Microbus-driving feeling into the future,” said Diess.
The production model will have its batteries mounted in the vehicle floor. The electric drive doesn’t take up much space, which means the front and rear axles can be mounted very far apart from one another. This provides a long wheelbase and short overhangs, making for more space in the interior. A cargo version will also be offered.
VW said that Ben Pon, whose family are very successful importers of Volkswagen vehicles in the Netherlands, had expressed great interest in the ID Buzz at the Californian event. It was Pon’s father who inspired the development of the first VW Bulli, the T1, with a sketch he made more than 70 years ago.
Expansion of the electric vehicle range is part of Volkswagen’s Strategy 2025, which foresees more than 30 all-electric models by that time. The ID Buzz will be a lot quicker than the petrol-powered original, with a choice of electric motors turning out between 204 and 374 horsepower.
VW says the Buzz can accelerate from a standing start to 100 kilometres per hour in less than five seconds and will top 160 km/h. Powerful batteries should ensure a useable range of more than 600 kilometres. The MPV has a raft of robot assistants on board and will be capable of Level 3 autonomous driving, with a computer which can take charge of driving. In theory, the driver and front seat occupants could swivel round their perches to face the interior and put their feet up during a journey.
The car shown in California even had a square steering wheel, which harks back to the ungainly Austin Allegro saloon produced in Britain until 1983. Its rectangular steering wheel was the butt of many jokes at the time. VW design chief Klaus Bischoff said he could not promise that this feature will make it into production.