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Volkswagen Electric ID Buzz to Take Over Iconic Bulli Microbus

Volkswagen has confirmed that the ID Buzz, its 21st century electrified take on its iconic Bulli Microbus, is destined for real-world production.

AFP Relaxnews

Updated:August 25, 2017, 12:03 PM IST
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Volkswagen Electric ID Buzz to Take Over Iconic Bulli Microbus
Dr. Eckhard Scholz and Dr. Herbert Diess announce the decision for a series production version of the Buzz ID. (Image: AFP Relaxnews)
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Just eight months after its reveal as little more than a motorshow concept study in Detroit, Volkswagen has confirmed that the ID Buzz, its 21st century electrified take on its iconic Bulli Microbus, is destined for real-world production.

"After the presentations at the global motor shows in Detroit and Geneva, we received a large number of letters and emails from customers who said, 'please build this car'," Volkswagen CEO Dr Herbert Diess explained of the decision to resurrect what is, alongside the Beetle, one of the company's genuine automotive icons.

As the world slowly moves from gasoline-fueled to zero-emissions motoring, bringing back a vehicle so synonymous with freedom, counterculture, practicality and fun -- yet with batteries, rather than an air-cooled engine calling the shots -- could prove to be a very shrewd decision. It will be a vehicle full of personality and potential at a time when cars could start to resemble white goods devoid of character or design differentiation.

"[The new Bulli] carries the Microbus driving feeling into the future," said Diess. "The vehicle is an important pillar in Volkswagen's electric drive initiative."

The original T1 Transporter, known as the Kombi or Bulli, was so versatile and easy to convert into a microbus, cargo van or camper, thanks to its flat front and rear mounted engine that it developed a global cult following that endured throughout its 30-year official lifespan.

Even when VW stopped manufacturing the van itself and sold on the tooling and presses, production and demand continued for the model when it started being built in South America. In fact, the only reason why the original is no longer in production is because it no longer meets Brazil's safety or emissions regulations. If there had been a cost-effective way to re-engineer the vehicle it would still be on sale today. Instead, the final van rolled off the line in December 2013.

Fans will have to wait for the new model. VW has not set an official launch date other than to confirm that it will arrive between 2022 and 2025. But when it does materialize, the car will have the same long wheelbase and tiny overhangs of the concept (thanks to fitting the batteries in the vehicle's floor), to maximize interior space.

"The vehicle therefore looks like a short compact van on the outside, even as it offers the generous interior space of a large van," said Diess.

And, as well as a modern microbus, the vehicle will also be offered as a van. "We'll also be offering an I.D. BUZZ Cargo variant for zero-emission delivery operations," said Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles CEO Dr Eckhard Scholz, "It's an ideal electric van concept, particularly for inner cities."

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