This year, Volkswagen is bringing back the bus — souped up, tricked out, and no longer bouncy — as the ID. Buzz. “ID.” stands for “intelligent design,” and “Buzz” means that it’s electric. It might be the most anticipated vehicle in automotive history. Volkswagen has been teasing a return of the classic, iconic, drive-it-to-the-Grateful-Dead bus for more than two decades. (I’m one of the people who’ve been counting the days.) The company keeps announcing that it’s coming, and then it never comes. Finally, it really is coming, and not only is it electric but it can also be a little bit psychedelic, two-toned, in the colors of a box of Popsicles: tangerine, lime, grape, lemon. It’s on sale in Europe this fall and will be available in the United States in 2024. (One reason for the wait is that Volkswagen is making a bigger one for the U.S. market, with three rows of seats instead of two.) Volkswagen expects the Buzz, which has a range of something like two hundred and sixty miles, to be the flagship of a fast-growing electric fleet. The C.E.O. of Volkswagen of America said that the demand for the Buzz in the U.S. is unlike anything he’s seen before. “The Buzz has the ability to rewrite the rules,” Top Gear reported in April, naming it Electric Car of the Year…

The future of the automobile is, undeniably, swoosh and buzz and smart — smart this, smart that. But is it appealing? VW’s pitch for the Buzz marries nostalgia with moral seriousness about climate change, a seriousness that, for VW, is a particular necessity. Volkswagen dominated the diesel-vehicle industry with its “clean diesel” cars and trucks until, in 2015, it admitted to tampering with the software on more than ten million vehicles in order to cheat on emissions tests. The scandal shattered the company and led to the resignation of Martin Winterkorn, then the VW Group’s C.E.O…Just this May, Volkswagen agreed to pay nearly two hundred and fifty million dollars to settle claims filed in England and Wales…

The Volkswagen ID. Buzz, then, isn’t just any electric car. It’s a bid for Volkswagen’s redemption. Is it also the car that can usher in an E.V. revolution, a true turn of the wheel in the long history of the automobile?

Car geeks who’ve driven prototypes, pre-production versions, say the answer to all those questions is a solid “YES”. We’ll get to see as the Euro version rolls out, this autumn. The longer wheelbase North American version is rumored for 2024 and – I’ll bet – it may be built in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

3 thoughts on “VW + EV = ID BUZZ

  1. Footnote says:

    “…in December, 1963, President Johnson, eying the next year’s election and needing the support of the United Auto Workers, not least for his civil-rights agenda, retaliated in kind. Volkswagen had started selling a Type 2 pickup truck that was becoming popular. The U.A.W. was threatening a strike. Johnson, whose Secretary of Defense was Robert McNamara, the former C.E.O. of Ford Motors, imposed a twenty-five-per-cent tax on imported light trucks. It was aimed at Volkswagen, but it applied to everyone. It has never been lifted.
    Because of the tax, Volkswagen couldn’t sell the Type 2 in the United States as any kind of truck—not as a pickup, not as a panel van, not as any vehicle that could be construed as commercial. It could only be a passenger van, a family car.”

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