Nearly five years after it first revealed its ID Buzz concept at the Detroit auto show, Volkswagen is finally ready to show off a production-ready version of the beloved vehicle. VW CEO Herbert Diess tweeted that the “legend returns” on March 9th, along with a gif of the automaker’s iconic Microbus.
A staple of coastal California’s towns, the VW Microbus’ reincarnated as an electric vehicle was never a foregone conclusion. It wasn’t until an outpouring of positive feedback that VW decided to greenlight the concept for production. And even then, it won’t be road-ready until 2023.
The vehicle is a clear homage to the iconic vehicle that the company sold in North America between 1950 and 1980. The production version of the concept is expected to deviate little from the blunt-faced original because all of the batteries will be mounted under the floor. Think of a longer, more van-like Chevrolet Bolt, and you can get an idea of what the electric VW might be like to drive.
We’ve already been treated to images of the ID Buzz draped in high-tech sensors and hardware in its role as an autonomous test vehicle in Germany. VW has said the autonomous Microbus will serve as a platform for its full-scale commercial ride-hailing and delivery operation that it plans on launching in Germany in 2025.
We still don’t know many details about the upcoming EV, including whether VW plans on sticking with the slightly cheesy ID Buzz name. (It works fine for a concept with play and pause icons for pedals, but I’m not sure it will fly at a dealership.) We do know that the Microbus will stop atop VW’s mass-manufactured modular electric vehicle platform, or “MEB.”
It will join other MEB vehicles, including the ID 3 hatchback, ID 4 crossover SUV, and the upcoming ID 5 sporty SUV. VW may have lost confidence from consumers after the diesel emission scandal; the electric reincarnation of the iconic Microbus may be the best thing to smooth over some of that skepticism.