In an announcement that is perhaps not surprising to much of the population, in January of 2017, Volkswagen management board member Herbert Diess declared that VW is looking ahead to an all-electric future. What that means is that much like booming electric car manufacturing pioneer Tesla, Volkswagen will soon only offer all-electric vehicles in its fleet. Coming off the heels of the emissions testing scandal that broke in 2015, Volkswagen has been hard at work trying to rebrand the company. Here is how they plan to do it:
First, by 2020, VW will begin offering their first original electric concept car, the I.D. (the e-Golf is already on the road, but the I.D. is a wholly new vehicle). Second, the aforementioned I.D. will be offered with a fully autonomous (in other words, self-driving) option by 2025. Third, by 2022, the second in a promised thirty-vehicle all-electric fleet will be rolled out in the form of the I.D. Buzz, a long-range electric version of the brand’s beloved microbus.
Revealed at the 2017 North American International Auto Show, the I.D. Buzz is designed with long, self-driven road trips in mind. Up to eight passengers will be able to relax comfortably with modular seats that can be arranged to encourage conversation or even games. Additionally, if owners so desire, the autonomous driving system can be engaged, allowing the front seats to turn rearward and creating more legroom and reclining room than ever before. Alternatively, the seats can be folded into two full-length loungers to allow passengers a luxurious snooze while the car drives itself.
So what kind of mileage does “long range” entail? At this point, Volkswagen is anticipating the I.D. Buzz to be able to travel up to 270 miles on a single charge, which is about comparable to the mileage one can get on a single tank of gas these days. The really cool space-age stuff comes in the features that allow for ultimate individuation. The center console features a removable tablet that is used to control everything from the stereo system (whose speakers, by the way, will be provided by none other than Dr. Dre’s Beats) to individual users’ lighting preferences. Using the VW I.D. system will allow each user’s preferences to be stored in the vehicle, so the age-old ritual of adjusting mirrors, changing preset radio stations, and fiddling with temperature controls will soon go the way of the dinosaurs.
Volkswagen seems to have considered road trippers, campers, and festival-goers as the target demographic for this ultimate hippy camper van of the future, if the fully customizable mood lighting in and out of the vehicle, the removable Bluetooth-enabled speaker (for campfire use, perhaps), the all-wheel drive capability, and the likely $30,000-40,000 price range are any indication. The I.D. and the I.D. Buzz remain concept cars for the moment, but the automotive world waits with bated breath to see if Volkswagen can deliver – and change their image in the process.