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The VW concept I.D. Buzz made its world debut at the 2017 Detroit auto show. (Kami Buchholz photo)

NAIAS 2017: I.D. Buzz could be VW's Microbus of the future

It’s a VW Microbus for future generations, an electric van capable of fully autonomous driving. But at this point, it’s only a concept.

“We want to re-ignite America’s love for Volkswagen. And we are fully committed to the future of mobility—smart, sustainable, affordable—that is the new Volkswagen,” proclaimed Dr. Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management for the Volkswagen Brand.

Sharing the stage with the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz electric van concept during the automaker’s 2017 Detroit auto show press conference, Diess said the Volkswagen brand’s North America EV parade begins in 2020 with the launch of a completely new vehicle architecture. The 2025 goal is to sell one million EVs annually.

“The I.D. Buzz here on stage is one of the concepts we are examining,” Diess said.

VW’s new Modular Electric Drive Kit, VW's modular vehicle architecture for EVs, known as MEB, underpins the I.D. Buzz. The 129.9-in (3299-mm) wheelbase electric van’s all-wheel-drive system has a claimed total output of 369 hp. There is an electric motor on each axle. The vehicle has a 111 kW·h battery, delivering an EV range estimated at up to 270 mi (600 km) on the U.S. driving cycle.

Befitting its intent as a fully autonomous driving vehicle, the I.D. Buzz has an unconventional cabin that includes a touch-sensitive steering wheel and an augmented-reality head-up display. The HUD enables navigation directions or other important information to be projected as a virtual image 23 to 49 ft (7 to 15 m) ahead of the vehicle. The concept van’s front seats can be electrically unlatched and rotated 180º to face the rear seats.

Tomasz Bachorski, Technical Development, Head of Interior Design, said the I.D. Buzz’s seats are more than a place to sit. The second-row seatbacks can be folded to form a table, while the third row seats can become a bed. “It’s really easy, really friendly, because life outside is complicated enough—so the interior here is easy-to-use,” he said.

I.D. Buzz also is a connected vehicle, with individual user profiles/preferences saved to the cloud.

Said Diess, “The I.D. Buzz shows what we can deliver on the upper end of our worldwide new electric architecture.”

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