Volkswagen ID Buzz is the Campervan, a 70-year-old legend, rethought and re-engineered as an electric vehicle. The VW ID Buzz is the future.
Have you ever tried to describe the Lagos landscape without mentioning the iconic kombi bus? The ubiquitous yellow van with black markings has earned its mention in any description of the megacity. While the word ‘kombi’ may attract a quizzical look from many Lagosians, ‘danfo’ will definitely get their attention. Apparently, the danfo moniker given to this vehicle is limited to Nigeria as it is variously known in other climes as kombi, Bulli, microbus, campervan and the hippy bus.
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The seventy-year-old Volkswagen Transporter’s plethora of names is succinct proof of its global appeal and longevity. However, it seems all good things either come to an end or get reborn through another iteration. Recently, the world’s second largest car manufacturer opted for the latter by radically rethinking the famous vehicle.
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A Brief Peek into Kombi’s History
If one word could capture the spirit of this much-fabled automobile, it would be FREEDOM. An American’s favourite recollection will be its ubiquity during those hippy years when the hunger for self-expression birthed a counter-culture movement.
A famous event in that Swingin’ 60s age is the now-famous Woodstock Music Festival in 1969. Half a million people travelling to and waiting three days on a dairy farm in Bethel, New York generated enough media attention, albeit inadvertent.
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Having played a major role in easing inconvenience for the attendees, the VW campervan virtually drove its way into the annals of American pop/culture history. Evidently, while the historical reasons for its popularity varies from one place to another, the emotional justifications run just as deep across the board.
Lagosians have no experience or memory of Woodstock but they swear that any resident of Africa’s fastest growing city must have a ‘danfo experience’ to qualify as a ‘true Lagosian’.
Into the Future with Volkswagen ID Buzz
Recently, Volkswagen has been quite outspoken about its Modular Electric Drive (MEB) platform in Germany. To emphasize the company’s all-electric future, it unveiled the ID Buzz at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last year. This vehicle is the campervan rethought and re-engineered for the future.
According to Christian Senger, VW’s Head of electric mobility, “For us, the VW ID BUZZ is an important pillar in Volkswagen’s future electric drive initiative, as it has such a strong heritage and evokes that sense of open-mindedness and freedom in fans of the original,”
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The auto giant is obviously planning big for an ‘electric future’ with an ambitious goal of selling at least one million electric cars annually by 2025. By giving consumers a breadth of choice with 30 models, this may be achievable but its first electric model will not hit the market until 2020. If all goes well, the Volkswagen ID Buzz will also become available by 2022.
Up-close and Personal
Perhaps the only throwback aspect of the Volkswagen ID Buzz is its form-factor. But even that is a somewhat distance semblance to its campervan ancestor. In order to design and produce a game-changing electric vehicle, VW ensured that its e-mobility technical departments worked closely their motorsport counterparts.
Given its MEB foundation, the three core elements of the platform are present in the VW ID Buzz. There is a massive battery pack pragmatically yet stylishly integrated with the floorboard. Front-mounted power-control electronics and an electric motor power a drive mechanism sitting between the two rear wheels. And each axle of the vehicle holds an electric drive unit that powers it.
The Volkswagen ID Buzz’s powertrain will produce an amazing 374hp. Range is expected to be as much as 373km on a single battery charge.
Social Intimacy & Lots Of Sunshine
As with the original campervan, the ID Buzz is designed to encourage intimacy and social interaction while enabling passengers to stay in touch with their surroundings. Able to seat eight passengers, the traditional roominess is maintained albeit with a futuristic lounge-like look.
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The bus takes exposure to the elements a notch higher with its full skylight roof which lets in lots of sunlight. It creates a feeling of gliding on the road almost noiselessly and even better, with a minimal carbon footprint.
Performance and Technology
Surely, no amount of drooling over its aesthetics can substitute for sub-par performance. Bearing that in mind, VW is already ahead of the curve with the planned full digitalisation of the vehicle. Not only will this ensure constant connectivity regardless of location, but it will also make a full over-the-air update and upgrade possible, according to Senger.
The auto giant is obviously keen on keeping its nose ahead of the rest of the pack by investing in ground-breaking technology. Virtual Reality is a part of this effort as VW will integrate it to beam instructions such as GPS directions about fifteen feet from the vehicle as a virtual image.
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Equipped with a relocatable center console and mostly touchscreen controls, which eliminate knobs and switches, the Volkswagen ID Buzz will run on Linux’ Operating System. If the car maker’s plans are realised, the future may be commercially available even sooner than we expect.