By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN Business
(CNN) — America apparently needs more car seats. So, when Volkswagen unveiled the ID. Buzz, a retro-styled electric van, last year, it noted that the version for the North American market would be longer and would have three rows of seats.
North America’s version of the ID. Buzz has now officially been revealed. “Designed and tailor-made for the North American consumer,” in the words of Volkswagen of America chief executive Paolo Di Si, this version is near 10 inches longer than the two-row model. It’s still not huge, though. At 194.4 inches, front to back, it’s about 10 inches shorter than a Chrysler Pacifica minivan, but can still seat up to seven.
The two-row version and a commercial van version available in Europe will not be sold here, Di Si confirmed.
The ID. Buzz is designed to recall the Volkswagen T1, or Transporter. That iconic model was introduced in 1949 and is better known as the Microbus, or just the VW Bus. In America, it became associated with the Hippie movement, but the Bus also provided transportation for large families long before the front-wheel-drive minivan was invented by Chrysler in the 1980s.
The ID. Buzz is expected to be available in this market in late 2024. Like the original Bus, the base version of the ID. Buzz will be rear-wheel-drive, with power coming from a motor mounted in the back. This time it’s a quiet electric motor rather than a noisy gasoline engine.
It’s also far more powerful, and faster.
The electric motor is capable of producing 282 horsepower, more than 10 times the horsepower of an early VW Bus. The new ID. Buzz will also be available with all-wheel-drive, with a total of up to 330 horsepower coming from two electric motors, one at the front and one at the back.
The all-wheel-drive version has a top speed of 99 miles per hour, while the rear-wheel-drive van can reach 90 miles an hour.
More convenient and luxurious than its counterculture elder, the ID. Buzz has power-sliding doors to access the back on both sides. It also has small inset power-opening windows located within the big glass windows in the side doors. A power tailgate in back is also standard. Inside, a removable center storage console has dividers that can be taken out and used as an ice scraper and a bottle opener.
The ID. Buzz’s second row seats slide forward to allow easier access to the third row and can fold down to allow for large cargo. The third row of seats can be removed altogether.
As in other VW ID. models, a light strip that runs across the dashboard provides helpful cues to the driver. It pulses to indicate the vehicle is ready to drive and can pulse toward one side or the other to signal a suggested turn. It also flashes if the collision avoidance system indicates urgent braking is needed.
According to VW, the original VW bus was introduced to supplement the Volkswagen Beetle, but “became a worldwide bestseller already in its first generation.” By 1967, 1.8 million had been manufactured.
The classic Microbus has become a favorite among collectors. Nicely kept versions have sold for six-figure sums. The world’s most valuable Hot Wheels car, worth as much as $150,000, is a tiny Microbus.
The new long-wheelbase ID. Buzz will be available in Europe, as well, along with the short-wheelbase version which was launched there last fall. The ID. Buzz will go on sale in the US next year. Prices will be announced closer to when the van becomes available, but are expected to start around $40,000.
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