The much-anticipated return of the Volkswagen camper bus to the American continent is finally a reality with the launch of the all-electric VW ID. Buzz long-wheelbase (LWB) model. Its release comes 20 years after Volkswagen discontinued vans and camper vans in the region, leaving a longing gap for North Americans who remembered the adorably retro van with nostalgia. First launched in Europe, the VW ID. Buzz is now ready to hit the roads in the US and Canada, offering a sleek, stylish and environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional minivans and camper vans.
Lars Krause, a member of the VW Commercial Vehicles board of management, emphasized the symbolic importance of the VW bus during its world premiere on Friday. “For decades, the VW bus has represented a unique lifestyle in the USA, Canada, and Europe,” he stated, referencing the iconic T1 Lightbus that marked the Woodstock festival. “The spirit of freedom that this symbol embodies lives on in our ID. Buzz. We are excited to present the people of North America a modern, all-electric new edition of this icon with an unmistakable design.”
At the core of this reinvented classic, much like its predecessor, the VW ID. Buzz LWB comes standard with a rear engine. The vehicle features Volkswagen’s new 282-hp APP550 permanent magnet synchronous (PMS) electric motor, a considerable improvement from the European two-row van’s 201-hp e-motor. This new motor provides up to 406 lb-ft of torque and can reach an electronically limited top speed of 99 mph (160 km/h).
Volkswagen plans to launch a dual-motor all-wheel-drive version, expected to produce around 330 hp, simultaneously. The battery capacity for both powertrains is increased to 91 kWh, up from the 82 kWh pack on the shorter two-row Buzz. However, Volkswagen has yet to disclose information regarding the range or charging times.
The VW ID. Buzz LWB extends the van’s total length to 192.4 inches (489 cm), almost 10 inches (25 cm) longer than the standard-wheelbase model. This extended length, housed within the 127.5-inch (324 cm) wheelbase, allows space for three rows with seven total seats, offering configurations of two front seats, a 60:40 split-folding three-seat second row, and a folding two-seat rear bench. Alternatively, buyers can opt for a six-seat configuration featuring two center captain’s chairs.
The adaptable interior design also means that the van can easily be transformed into a simple light camper with the addition of inflatable sleeping pads. The third row can be removed completely, maximizing cargo space when necessary. The van’s interior ambiance is further enhanced with an available panoramic sunroof that uses an electrochromic polymer-dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) system to seamlessly transition from opaque to transparent. Tinted windows in the second and third rows provide privacy, better cabin cooling, and an ideal setting for a late morning sleep-in during camping trips.
Accessing the rear rows is a breeze with dual power-sliding rear doors. The second row can be moved forward by 4 inches (10 cm) for easier ingress and egress to the third row. The van also features Volkswagen’s Easy Open and Close feature that allows drivers to open the power tailgate by waving a foot under the bumper, providing they have the keys in a pocket or bag. Proximity unlocking and keyless entry are also included for the front door.
The interior of the ID. Buzz is equipped with a 5.3-inch ID. Cockpit instrument panel and a 12.9-inch infotainment display, ensuring a thoroughly modern and connected driving experience. The vehicle also includes wireless App-Connect, wireless charging, eight USB-C ports distributed throughout the vehicle, a 110V outlet under the passenger seat, 12-volt charging in the cargo area, and an optional 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system. The ID. Light system, another innovative feature, utilizes a pulsating light strip below the windshield to relay vital information such as navigation prompts and driver-assistance braking cues.
While Volkswagen initially envisioned the ID. Buzz as a fully autonomous vehicle when the concept was debuted in the US in 2017, the final model comes equipped with a Level 2 IQ.DRIVE driver-assistance system as standard. This includes features like highway lane centering and a capacitive steering wheel. Optional add-ons include Park Assist with remote parking, Area View, and a head-up display.
The VW ID. Buzz LWB was debuted in Huntington Beach, California, coinciding with the inaugural “International Volkswagen Bus Day.” Volkswagen has announced plans to launch the new van in both North America and Europe in 2024. Vibrant single and two-tone color options such as “Energetic Orange,” “Pomelo Yellow,” “Mahi Green,” and “Cabana Blue” will be available, and all models will be manufactured at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ plant in Hanover, Germany. Detailed information regarding pricing and range is expected to be disclosed closer to the launch date.
Volkswagen hasn’t confirmed whether the long-awaited return of the VW camper bus, specifically the beloved California camper van, will coincide with the new ID. Buzz’s debut in America. However, plans for an all-electric ID. California have been confirmed, and the long-wheelbase ID. Buzz would be a fitting base for that official VW e-camper.
Whether this comes to fruition or not, it’s highly likely that the camper van-loving aftermarket will embrace the Buzz and develop full camper vans, DIY kits, and camping accessories for Volkswagen’s latest offering. European companies like Ququq have already crafted camper equipment for the smaller two-row Buzz, so they may use their experience to quickly produce gear for the larger LWB model.
In conclusion, the arrival of the VW ID. Buzz LWB is set to rekindle the iconic status of the Volkswagen camper bus, bringing a whole new generation the chance to enjoy the unique lifestyle and freedom symbolized by this classic vehicle, now powered by state-of-the-art electric technology.