First Look: The 2024 Volkswagen ID. Buzz Is a Modern Electric Microbus

VW reinvents the Microbus as a modern EV minivan.

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When was the last time a new minivan sparked genuine excitement? Revealed this week, the Volkswagen ID. Buzz has the world’s attention, blending an electric powertrain and modern interior with a nostalgic toaster-shaped body that brings to mind the rich heritage of VW people movers dating back to the iconic T1 bus. To its credit, Volkswagen is calling the ID. Buzz what it is: a van, not a crossover or some marketing acronym to disguise its true identity. You'll either love it or run away from it.


The Platform: Like an ID.4, but More

The ID. Buzz rides on the same dedicated EV platform as VW’s ID.4 crossover. Placing the large, heavy battery in the lowest, central part of the chassis provides optimal handling and safety as well as maximizes cabin space. Europeans will get it first, in both cargo and consumer forms, as they're the ones who buy vans for fleets and small businesses and need short, stubby vehicles to navigate the Continent's tight urban streets. 

Those of us in the U.S. will have to wait until 2024 for the ID. Buzz. By then, though, VW promises it’ll have a long-wheelbase passenger model with three rows of seats.


Retro Style, Modern Technology

So as not to make this van seem dated, VW uses only a smattering of retro cues. You’ll notice the huge VW badge on the nose, of course, and the boxy body shape. Then there are the three accents on the D-pillar, which mimic old-school vents. And the available two-tone paint schemes pay homage to Microbuses of old with a white upper surround that dips down on the front end. 


The rest of the exterior looks modern, though. Check out the thin LED lighting with animations, the large two-tone wheels, and the crosshatch openings on the front bumper that hide all the radar and parking sensors for the advanced driver-assistance features. While the ID. Buzz has the humongous windshield and flat nose of a tour bus, it employs many visual tricks—tidy proportions, bright colors, detailed surface textures—to distract from the fact that it’s a van. Good design makes everyday products appealing and desirable. 

In this case, you don't realize you've been duped into liking a van.


Interior Design

As for the interior, everything looks fresh and contemporary except perhaps for the colors. The muted-orange and lemon schemes that VW previewed remind us a lot of a mid-century kitchen’s countertops. The floating infotainment and instrument-panel screens have all the usual connectivity and convenience features. Up front, the tall doors have two storage bins each, and the chairs have adjustable armrests. The dash is flat and disconnected from the center console to allow for generous legroom. 


In certain models, owners can remove the front-row center console entirely or place it in the second row. No word yet on how configurable the U.S. version will be. What’s more, VW claims the short-wheelbase cargo van can accommodate 138 cubic feet of stuff in the back—that’s more than most mid-size and even full-size SUVs can swallow. 


Under the “Hood”

Early models sold in Europe will have rear-wheel drive and a single electric motor making 201 hp and 229 lb-ft of torque. They’ll also have a 77-kWh lithium-ion battery providing an unknown range and fast-charging capability of up to 170 kilowatts. VW promises more battery options in the future. And if the ID. Buzz follows the same path as the ID.4, we’ll eventually see a model with dual electric motors enabling all-wheel drive. 



VW remains mum on pricing. Would you pay what could easily be $50,000 to drive the funkiest three-row EV? Minivan competitors like the Kia Carnival offer tons of space and more back-seat luxuries for around $40,000. The Chrysler Pacifica is available as a plug-in hybrid. Ram and Ford sell compact passenger vans that could begin the transition to battery power around the time the ID. Buzz arrives here. For now, at least, the ID. Buzz is putting out plenty of good vibes.

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Clifford Atiyeh
Clifford Atiyeh is an independent writer, photographer, and creative consultant. He has reported for dozens of websites, magazines, and newspapers in his 20-year journalism career, during which he has tested more than 650 new vehicles. His automotive expertise focuses on product development, market analysis, and the litigation and legislation affecting the industry. Clifford is vice president of the New England Motor Press Association and runs a marketing consultancy.