Volkswagen’s I.D Buzz concept is a microbus for the self-driving era

Volkswagen’s new I.D. Buzz electric vehicle concept is a futuristic take on the microbus that revives the family camper for an era when we’ll spent just as much of our time on the road relaxing or hanging out with our fellow passengers as we will driving. The new EV design, Volkswagen’s second concept car in the I.D. line, was revealed at this year’s North American International Auto Show.

The Buzz has a max range of 270 miles on a single charge, and all-wheel drive, with a fully autonomous mode that allows the front seats to be reconfigured to face backwards towards the rear compartment. Depending on what you’re doing with the car, you can seat up to eight using the modular seating arrangement – or just create two luxurious, vehicle length loungers for relaxing while the car drives itself.

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The in-car entertainment system is also designed to cater to different passenger arrangements, with a big, removable tablet in the center console and an AR-enabled heads-up display for overlaying information on your view out the windshield. The car remembers who you are using Volkswagen ID, and can set preferences specific to any individual driver. A Beats partnership puts an external speaker with Bluetooth connectivity in-car, which can then be removed for use outside the vehicle – maybe at a camp site, for instance.

Like other autonomous cars, a lot of the communication between vehicle and people takes place via the lighting system, which includes LEDs outside that can communicate things like when autonomous driving is engaged with pedestrians, and ambient mood lighting within.

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The microbus was always a car that people loved for its flexibility; it excelled at providing a great getaway vehicle for families with an adventurous spirit. The new I.D. Buzz looks like it has the same DNA, but with an update for a more tech-savvy generation.

Buzz is a concept, so there’s no guarantee we’ll ever see a production vehicle like it on the road, but Volkswagen is committed to hit a sales target of 1 million electric vehicles annually by 2025, with a range of models, so this reimagined microbus could definitely still see the light of day at some point.