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Detroit show: VW debuts ID Buzz electric bus

Electric sheep: With third row seats that can transform into beds while stationary, a production version of the ID Buzz could become the perfect van for long distance travellers.

Autonomous, all-electric ID Buzz concept previews future Volkswagen vans

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Volkswagen logo9 Jan 2017

VOLKSWAGEN has premiered its self-driving capable ID Buzz passenger van concept at the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) with a transforming six-seat cabin and all-electric powertrain.

The ID Buzz foreshadows the German brand’s vision of a future van to complement last year’s ID hatchback concept at the Paris motor show, as Volkswagen prepares an onslaught of electric vehicles from 2020.

Looking like a cross between the aforementioned ID concept and a Transporter van, the Detroit motor show debutant is unmistakably Volkswagen thanks to its two-tone colour scheme and boxy exterior reminiscent of the cult Kombi vans of yesteryear.

Its fascia alludes to the all-electric powertrain with a completely smooth bumper, while a unique lighting signature is projected thanks to integrated, backlit LED headlights and fog lights, along with an ambient lighting strip around the entire vehicle beltline.

The rear features thin, wraparound tail-lights, a short overhang and large rear-hatch opening, while stylised air vents found on the D-pillar pay homage to the first-generation Transporter.

Measuring in at 4943mm in length, 1976mm wide and 1963mm tall with a wheelbase of 3299mm, the ID Buzz has slightly less of a road presence than its Multivan sibling, which measures 5304mm in length, 1904mm in width, 1990mm in height and features a 3400mm wheelbase.

Built on the same Modular Electric Drive (MEB) platform as its ID hatchback forebear, albeit with an elongated wheelbase, the ID Buzz makes the most of its two electric motors (each mounted on the front and rear axle) for a combined output of 275kW.

Volkswagen claim the showcar can sprint from zero to 97km/h in five seconds, almost as quick as its DSG-equipped Golf R stablemate which can hit 100km/h in the same time.

With an 111kWh battery, the ID Buzz can be recharged to 80 per cent in 30 minutes from a 150kW Combined Charging System, or longer from a conventional home outlet, and has an electric driving range of about 600km.

However, Volkswagen says “it would be just as easy to equip the ID Buzz with a rear-wheel-drive setup producing up to 268hp (200kW) and a smaller 83kWh battery, depending on the region and purpose of use”.

The ID Buzz will make extensive use of automated driving technologies including roof-mounted, extendable laser sensors, as well as ultrasonic and radar instruments, and side and front-facing cameras when in self-driving mode.

Driver’s will be able to access an ID Pilot mode at the press of a button, wherein the steering wheel will “retract and merge into the instrument panel” and “ambient lighting switches from white light to mood lighting that is warm and relaxed”, according to VW.

When the ID Buzz is in autonomous mode, passengers will be able to rearrange the six seats into a myriad of different positions, including transforming the second row seats into tables, turning the front seats to face the rear and sliding the tablet-controlled centre console towards the middle of the vehicle.

On longer journeys, the third row seats are even able to convert into beds for night stop-overs.

Pressing the steering wheel-mounted button again will revert control of the ID Buzz back to the driver, as will depressing the brake or accelerator pedals.

The ID Buzz also features a unique driver convenience technologies, including an augmented reality head-up display which can project satellite navigation and communications information onto the road ahead, a User-ID system that stores preferred information including seating position, sound system settings and type of ambient lighting to a unique individual profile, and the implementation of a smarthphone-integrated Digital Key.

Volkswagen member of the board of management responsible for development Dr Frank Welsch said the concept car is a peak at the next step of evolution for the passenger van segment.

“The ID Buzz is a next-generation vehicle based on the new Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB), offering comfort and plenty of space,” he said.

“The overall concept of the ID Buzz points the way to the future. This concept vehicle is the world’s first electric multi-purpose vehicle to be equipped with a fully autonomous driving mode.

“It carries the feeling of freedom of the Mircobus over to a completely new era of mobility.”

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