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VW ID. Buzz creates, well, EV buzz at auto-show debut

All-electric microbus stirs memories and could resurrect the minivan segment in Canada

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It had its world debut last month, but, like so much of the past couple of years, that reveal was a virtual presentation that didn’t do it justice. But at today’s 2022 New York auto show, a real-life not-a-concept-or-early-prototype ID. Buzz rolled out at the Volkswagen display to what can only be called a groovy reception. Like, wow, man!

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What is it?

An all-electric homage to one of the most culturally significant vehicles of the ’60s (and ’70s). Why it took more than two decades to come to fruition since the resounding success of The New Beetle — another retro tribute to an iconic vehicle — is anybody’s guess, but the good news is that because Volkswagen waited so long to drag the Microbus into the twenty-first century, it’s going to be fully electrified.

Initial models will come in five- and six-passenger configurations, along with a cargo version in Europe, and let’s hope the design team doesn’t dawdle on bringing out what every Westfalia-phile is aching for: a VW EV Camper. Those initial models will have an 82-kWh battery, a horsepower output of 201, and a max torque of 229 lb-ft. (For the record, my ’74 Westfalia had 74 horsepower).

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Why does it matter?

Well, unless an automaker is going to surprise all of us in the coming months with an all-electric minivan, the ID. Buzz will be the first one of those available in North America. And despite auto journalists writing off that segment years ago, it’s still out there and still popular with families.

The EV architecture that most every automaker is basing its future production on — in the case of the VW, it is called the MEB — is essentially a flat battery pack with wheels pushed out to each corner, which is ideal for a roomy and functional minivan layout. Of course, the sentimental value of the ID. Buzz will help spur initial sales, but I expect it to make inroads into attracting buyers — again, families — away from the plethora of SUVs that are out there.

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When will it arrive in Canada?

Keep that incense dry, as we’re still a couple of years away from seeing the ID. Buzz roll into Canadian showrooms. The North American model, however, will be an extended-wheelbase version, which Europe will get in 2023, and us “some time” in 2024. VW has stated that more battery versions of various power output levels will debut in 2023, so expect the ones we get to have more power than those of the initial launch in Europe later this year. No pricing figures yet.

Should you buy one?

If you can’t remember the ’60s, you probably should.