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The I.D. Buzz launches into a market cool to minivans.

VW I.D. Buzz Entering Challenging Market For EVs and Minivans

When Volkswagen’s all-electric I.D. Buzz goes on sale in the U.S. in June it will be offered in three trims, expected to be priced roughly between $45,000 and $50,000.

The Volkswagen ID. Buzz, launching in June, is the German automaker’s most anticipated product launch since the New Beetle went on sale in 1997. The 6- or 7 -seat van, an homage to the iconic Type 2 Microbus, however, has all the latest BEV, safety and infotainment tech, a far cry from the spare and precarious original.

While the reboot of the Microbus has been in the works for almost two decades, the timing of the van’s launch is fraught because of a slowdown in BEV sales and a dramatic decline in minivan sales and interest.

The ID. Buzz will be offered in the U.S. in three trims: Pro S, Pro S Plus and a first-year, launch-only 1st Edition. Both a rear-drive and 4Motion/AWD configuration will be available for buyers.

Power is supplied by a dual rear-mounted electric motor with a maximum output of 150 kW. The battery with 86 kWh net energy content will carry the Buzz up to about 257 miles (414 km) and produce 282 hp. Plugged into a DC fast charger, VW says the van will be able to charge its battery from 10% to 80% in 30 minutes.

The ID. Buzz will ride on Volkswagen's Modular Electric Drive (MEB) platform that currently underpins corporate products such as the Audi Q4 e-tron crossover and I.D.4. Europe will get both a commercial and passenger version of the ID. Buzz, while North America will get only the long-wheelbase passenger version.

A Rainbow of Nostalgia

The design cues meant to evoke memories of the Microbus include an oversized VW logo on the van’s snout, short overhangs and a greenhouse look that draws from the original. The exterior color scheme choices are also inspired by the original: two-tone options will either pair a Candy White top with Energetic Orange, Pomelo Yellow, Blue Charcoal, Mahi Green, Metro Silver, Cabana Blue or Indium Grey below; or a Metro Silver top with Cherry Red below. Three single-tone options will be offered as well: Metro Silver, Candy White and Deep Black Pearl.

Interior color schemes are also key to attracting fans of the original, as well as appealing to new buyers perhaps shopping the brand for the first time. These interiors are unique to the North American models: Moonlight, a dark interior that includes dark brown leatherette seats with white piping, blue door inserts and a dark wood-look dash, paired with black headliner; Dune pairs light grey leatherette seats with clay-colored piping, clay door inserts, and a light wood-look dash; Copper pairs brown leatherette seats with yellow piping, brown door inserts and a washed wood-look dash.

After that, though, the van follows what minivan and BEV shoppers are looking for.

All Buzz models are equipped with 20-in. aluminum-alloy wheels; dual power-sliding rear doors, a modern take on the classic sliding windows, which are fully powered; power tailgate; a 12.9-in. (32.8-cm) infotainment system; 30-color ambient lighting; Park Assist Plus; wireless phone charging; and wireless App-Connect.

Pro S models come only with a rear-wheel-drive setup with a bench seat to accommodate up to seven passengers. Pro S Plus and 1st Edition models offer both rear-wheel- and 4Motion all-wheel-drive configurations. On Pro S Plus RWD models, bench seating is standard, with an available captain’s chair package with seating for six. RWD 1st Edition models only offer a rear bench. On both Pro S Plus and 1st Edition 4Motion models, captain’s chairs come standard.

Pro S Plus models come with a head-up display; the 700-watt, 9-speaker Harman/KardonT sound system; and an available Flexboard that creates a flat floor when the seats are folded. A manually retractable tow hitch is hidden behind the rear bumper when retracted.

The launch-only 1st Edition, based on the Pro S trim, is available only with 2-tone exterior, roof rail crossbars and 1st Edition badging outside. Inside, all 1st Edition models are equipped with the Dune interior, heritage-inspired floormats, electrochromic panoramic glass roof, premium Harman/Kardon sound system, Flexboard and easy/open sliding doors and tailgate.

Will Nostalgia Sell?

Whether the ID. Buzz captures hearts in the U.S. market is anyone’s guess. When VW introduced the New Beetle Concept in 1994 at the North American International Auto Show, 15 years after the automaker stopped selling the original Beetle in the U.S., the excitement generated a lot of dealer foot-traffic four years before the production version went on sale. It was a savior of the brand’s U.S. business since total sales had dwindled to 19,000 in 1995, prompting the German parent to ponder pulling up stakes in the U.S.

Sales peaked in 1999 at 160,000, but overall the car was not viewed as a rousing sales success over its lifespan. The New Beetle was redesigned for 2012, but that car disappointed as well, and production ended in 2019.

The all-electric Buzz, though, is catching the BEV market in its early days and will be a unique offering both in the U.S. and Europe, so the production cycle may be steadier than the Beetle reboots.

It will be the only BEV minivan on the market at launch, but that may work against the vehicle. Families wanting a minivan are more apt to choose a hybrid or ICE version until the public charging infrastructure matures. Total minivan sales, per Wards Intelligence, were 76,000 in the first quarter spread across four models led by category leader Chrysler Pacifica. General Motors and Ford have exited the category altogether as families have migrated to SUVs over the years.

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