Modern Flower-Power: We Check out the VW ID.BUZZ at the LA Auto Show
From the show of the 2022 LA Auto Show, we got our first peek at the future of electric family transportation. (Which itself harkens to the past).
Say hello to the European-spec of the Volkswagen ID.BUZZ. We specify that this is the European model because it has a shortened wheelbase and seats for only 5. US-bound models will come at a later date, come only in extended wheelbase models, and have three rows of seats for 7 or possibly 8.
A lot can be learned about the version we will get from our quick tour of this model shown at the LA Auto Show. From its overall styling and features to its materials and finishes, our version promises to be more of what we have come to expect from Volkswagen and their ID-branded electric vehicles. The electronics inside bear an uncanny resemblance to the digital gauges and infotainment from the ID.4 already for sale here in the US. The play and pause buttons on the pedals also recall the fun touches applied to the 1st Edition of that model.
VW makes the most of the electric platform's strengths: flat load floor, stretched wheelbase, and an increased emphasis on passenger space. Unique storage spaces range from the Qi wireless charger behind the steering wheel to the removable center console between the two front captain's chairs. Throw in some hidden cupholders, a large secondary storage area above the generous glove box, and USB-C chargers in every row, and you have the makings of a strong contender in the family-hauling business.
Second-row passengers are treated to airline-style tray tables on the backs of the front seats with cupholder cutouts and indentions for resting a cell phone or tablet on long treks across the country. Those treks are going to be broken down into bite-size chunks, however, as this Euro-spec version only touts an estimated 264-mile range, an acceptable number for 2022 but gives us pause for concern. As we mentioned, our US-spec will have a longer wheelbase, and thus perhaps a larger battery than the 77-kWh battery in this Euro-spec model. However, even at a 10% increase, we would still expect sub-300 miles of range. In a vehicle we are not expecting until LATE 2024 or early 2025, that seems behind the times. The benefits of larger vehicle footprints on EV models is usually a noticeable increase in range with many upcoming models boasting over 300 miles and some with over 400. A vehicle that will be coming to our shores in 2025 with a range number starting in a 2 just seems a little behind the times and may put this vehicle at a disadvantage to other options on the market by that time.
The design of this ID.BUZZ is going to be its biggest selling point. The question then becomes, how important is overall range, charging speed, and style to your future family needs? If you are good with an EV with possibly less than 300 miles of total range, 170 kW fast-charging capabilities, and looks that will turn heads no matter where you go (when was the last time you read that about a minivan), then this may be for you. However, if you want modern 300+ miles of range, up to 300 kWh fast-charging, and can make the sacrifice in retro-styling for something decidedly more futuristic (Rivian R1S anybody?) this may not be your best choice.
We can only wait until further details on the US-spec version are revealed in spring of 2023 and hope that our expectations here are exceeded. Until then, we will still be dreaming of living our modern flower-power adventure in the ID.BUZZ.