Volkswagen Really Wants to Make the I.D. Buzz, Honest

We’ve all been hurt before. Whether it was your dad saying he’d come to your softball game and never showing up, or a date that left you hanging, we all know the sharp disappointment and anger of getting our hopes up only to be let down. VW has been guilty of this.

Every couple of years, VW shows us a concept. “It’ll be great,” they say. “It’ll be just like the bulli!” And  every time we get our hopes up. And every time we’re let down.

So this time, when Volkswagen unveiled the I.D. Buzz in Detroit, you could be forgiven for expressing a certain amount cynicism. In fact, comments on our Facebook page ranged from “Just another concept they won’t build….Thanks for nothing VW!” to “F@#$ Volkswagen. They been playing with my emotions for 20 years.”

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This time, though, the I.D. Buzz might actually stand a chance. That’s because Volkswagen wants to capture the US market and a microbus would help.

“There’s no other market globally where microbus has the emotional pull that it has in the US,” said Jurgen Stackmann, head of marketing and sales at VW, speaking to Auto Express. And better yet, the reception in the States has, again, been good. “It’s quite amazing and the reaction has been phenomenal.”

More than that, though, the I.D. Buzz makes sense in the lineup, because VW really wants to get its money’s worth out of the MEB platform. While the I.D. exists on the smaller side of the spectrum, the I.D. Buzz shows the “maximum space with the same technology kit – it’s important that we do that to leverage scale,” said Stackmann, adding that there will be some other concepts in between (SUV, Sedan, etc.).

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Just because a microbus-sized electric vehicle is important to VW, though, doesn’t mean that an electric vehicle has to look like a microbus. Admittedly, because of safety standards and front-mounted engines, VW’s vans have been moving steadily away from the original, iconic microbus design. Now, though, thanks to the MEB platform, the design is actually feasible, said VW design chief Klaus Bischoff, speaking to VW Vortex.

Without a big engine in front of the driver, all the I.D. Buzz needs are structural beams in front of the driver. While that does mean no design is ever likely to quite look like the original Type 2, it also means that it can look like the I.D. Buzz.

Bischoff doesn’t seem interested in just following trends either. So building another SUV isn’t his priority, because by the time the product reaches market, it can be behind the times. “It’s important to do something different,”said Bischoff. “Something true to the brand.”

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Moreover, Bischoff seems emotionally  attached to the I.D. Buzz. Talking it, he describes every detail passionately and knows every line intimately. That could be because the first car he bought with his own money was a Type 2, but whatever the case, he clearly feels strongly about the I.D. Buzz. “We’re just trying to get everything right. We’ll see,” he said with real vulnerability.

It’s true that the I.D. Buzz is just a concept car, and concept cars never quite make it to market, but it does at least seem like this one has people backing it, people who’d like to see it become a reality.