Iconic design, two-tone paint, three rows, AWD; whatever you call it, the Buzz won’t be cheap.
The 2025 Volkswagen ID.Buzz electric minivan has been coming to North America for a long, long time. The concept for an all-EV reboot of the classic Type 2 Microbus appeared in 2016 and was confirmed for production in August 2017. It’s been on sale in Europe for a year, as has the Cargo commercial-van variant. At a media preview Thursday, we finally got a look at the version that’ll come to the U.S. and Canadian markets in the second half of next year.
It’s longer than the one sold in Europe, has a genuine third row of seats, a larger battery and a more powerful motor, and available all-wheel drive. That puts it squarely into the nascent segment of mass-market 3-row electric family utilities. Ford, Hyundai, Kia, and GM will all launch vehicles into that segment over the next couple of years. Now we know VW will join them.
VW specs Buzz for North America
For almost a decade now, VW’s North American outpost has had more say in development of the products it sells than it historically did. First, the Tiguan small sport-utility launched in 2018 arrived on the U.S. market only in a long-wheelbase version, VW of America having decided the standard European model was just too small. That put it squarely in competition with segment leaders Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Then VW launched the U.S.-built Atlas 3-row SUV, a vehicle large enough that North America will be its single largest market.
So the U.S. has waited for a version of the ID.Buzz that VW of America feels is better suited to our market. That means a higher-capacity battery pack (91 kilowatt-hours of total capacity, of which 85 kWh is usable, versus 82 kWh total in the European two-row), in a vehicle that’s 10 inches longer. Almost all of the added length comes entirely between the axles, giving room for both the larger battery and a proper third row of seats.
An updated permanent-magnet rear motor is more powerful (282 hp vs 201 hp), with maximum torque of 406 pound-feet. Stronger permanent magnets in the rotor have higher capacity for thermal load, stator wires have higher cross-section and more effective turns, and coolant that combines oil and water offers more ability to shed heat. The combination together boosts not only power and torque, but also energy efficiency. VW quotes a maximum charging rate of 170 kilowatts, and DC fast charging from 10 to 80 percent of battery capacity in about 20 minutes (under ideal circumstances).
All-wheel drive will be available from launch, with total power of “about 330 hp,” VW said, giving a 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of 5.7 seconds. The 20-inch wheels have been aerodynamically optimized for low drag. VW says the three-row ID.Buzz has a drag coefficient of just 0.29—not bad for a vehicle with the profile of a 16-foot-long, 6-foot-high garden shed.
Iconic features, lots of ‘em
The huge ‘VW’ logo on the front, perhaps the single most iconic visual indicator, is illuminated (a feature many European buyers may regret is illegal under EU regulations). The largest glass roof VW has ever offered, more than 67 inches long and almost 41 inches wide, contains a liquid crystal layer that is opaque until it’s powered, when it becomes translucent. The accelerator and brake pedals have computer “play” and “pause” symbols on them, and other Buzz easter eggs are scattered throughout the vehicle.
The distinctive attention-grabbing two-tone paint treatments are optional, harkening directly back to the Deluxe Microbuses of the early and mid 1960s. Eight paint colors include bright tones—Pomelo Yellow, Energetic Orange, Mahi Blue—as well as the inevitable silver and charcoal. Three interior combinations are offered: dark brown and black, light grey and clay, and light brown and grey. Each has a different color of contrasting piping, and a different wood-look tone. Two trim levels will be offered, though the specifics of each will wait til closer to launch.
Unlike the original Microbus, the ID.Buzz has sliding doors on both sides. Both are powered, as is the tailgate. Other power features include standard 12-way heated and ventilated seats for the driver and front passenger, including dual armrests and massage; heated steering wheel, mirrors, and outboard second-row seats; and an available heated windshield. The 60-40 split back rest of the second row can be adjusted for rake, and the 3-position second row can also be replaced with captain’s chairs if only six seats are needed. The third row can be removed entirely.
A 14-speaker Harmon Kardon premium audio system is available, but for passengers using their own devices, the Buzz includes wireless charging, no fewer than eight USB-C ports, 12-volt charging in the rear load bay, and a 120-volt outlet under the front passenger seat.
Volkswagen continues to revise its much-criticized infotainment system, adding a direct-access function on the left of the 12.9-inch center touchscreen display to give one-touch access to the main menu. Other revisions based on feedback from ID.4 users include quicker access to car control functions and illumination for certain haptic slider controls.
Canada will receive the same long-wheelbase ID.Buzz as the United States, albeit with instruments in metric, but that market gets two additional changes. First, a two-row version (with a very long load bay) will be offered in that country only. Second, a heat pump for more efficient cabin heating will be offered as an option, as it is today on ID.4s sold in Canada.
Whatever it is, it won’t be cheap
Defining the ID.Buzz as a vehicle is difficult. On one hand, it’s a retro re-creation of a beloved vehicular icon from a Boomer past. That puts it in the company of the VW New Beetle, the Mini Cooper, and perhaps the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Chevrolet HHR. Many of those cars were enormously popular at the start, but sales dwindled fast after two or three years.
On the other hand, it’s a minivan with sliding side doors. From a peak in about 2000, this segment has stabilized at a low level with only a few players (Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Kia). VW hasn’t had any kind of boxy van-like vehicle for a couple of decades, so it’s effectively a new entrant.
Frankly, if it could get the volume, Volkswagen would probably want the ID.Buzz to compete in the “three-row family crossover” category. It’s got seven seats, a flexible interior, and available AWD. While it doesn’t have SUV ground clearance, the driving position is high enough—4 inches higher than that of the Atlas 3-row SUV—to give that utility-vehicle feeling.
Whatever it is, U.S. sales of the ID.Buzz won’t start until the second half of next year, and VW won’t announce pricing until much closer to that time. It also said nothing on predicted EPA range ratings. Given the high level of standard equipment on all Buzz variants, though, it likely won’t be cheap. The starting price could well be close to $60,000—and it won’t qualify for federal EV-purhcase tax incentives, because it’s imported from the factory that makes all ID.Buzz variants in Hanover, Germany. It does qualify for a $7,500 incentive if leased, however.
For VW, the mission of the ID.Buzz is not so much to sell in the volumes of its Atlas and Tiguan, but to serve as a cool, instantly recognizable “halo vehicle” to top the range and draw shoppers into showrooms for a look. Given a maximum global production capacity of 100,000 for all markets, Volkswagen should easily find 20,000 or 30,000 buyers to buy the ID.Buzz at any price.
Lots of buzz
Still, the ID.Buzz will add an immediate dash of excitement and retro cool to Volkswagen’s EV lineup. It’ll be the third electric VW sold in the States, after the ID.4 compact SUV now built in the company’s plant in Chattanooga, alongside the gasoline Atlas 3-row SUV. The recently revealed ID.7 sedan will arrive in the second half of 2024 as well, but the Buzz will be the lineup’s halo car.
Expect a barrage of Buzz-focused media as that date gets closer. The electric Microbus reboot still garners a huge amount of attention among the public and the media. It draws crowds and approving comments when shown in public or at auto shows, helped by bright colors and that two-tone treatment.
How popular was the concept? In 2017, I got a chance to drive the concept vehicle for 20 minutes along the waterfront in Monterey, California. We hardly drove anywhere without seeing phones raised and onlookers pointing. One woman was so entranced she followed the concept at a fast run—into a parking lot and directly through the middle of a video shoot—to ask about it.
Nothing else sold today, EV or otherwise, looks even remotely like the Volkswagen ID.Buzz. If that 2017 fascination lasts, the new electric Microbus may prove a hit for VW. Now we just have to learn when it’ll show up, how far it’ll go, and what it costs.
Volkswagen provided airfare, lodging, and meals to enable Charged EVs to bring you this first-person news report.