It’s been far too long and yet you’re going to have to wait a bit longer.
After years of impatient waiting, the U.S. version of the Volkswagen ID.Buzz finally made its debut Thursday in Huntington Beach, California. When pitted against the European spec bus — which is already on sale — everything about this version of the automaker’s electric van is bigger.
America loves nostalgia and big vehicles — and this vehicle has both.
Bigger and bigger
The most notable “bigger” thing on the vehicle is the wheelbase. The U.S. three-row Buzz is 10 inches longer than its European counterpart at 192.4 inches to accommodate the removable third row. That’s 16 feet of electric bus. Why is the U.S. getting a super-sized vehicle instead of a two-row version? Because that’s what we want, according to VW.
“The consumer feedback was very clear,” Volkswagen Group CEO of the Americas Pablo Di Si said in an interview at the event. When polled, U.S. consumers overwhelmingly preferred a third-row bus over the shorter-wheelbase version currently on sale in Europe, he added.
This pits the Buzz against not only the traditional vans on the market but also large three-row SUVs. Without an electric van competitor on the horizon, Kia’s EV9 (available in the fall of 2023) could be what potential owners are cross-shopping in the future.
That future is going to stretch out a bit more though. The long-wheelbase ID.Buzz is expected to go on sale in the U.S. market sometime in the third quarter of 2024. That’s all we know. When asked about reservations, Di Si said the company was still figuring that out as it wanted to have a system that was fair as possible to consumers. The CEO and automaker are also mum on pricing details.
When it does arrive, the U.S.-spec ID.Buzz will sport a more significant 91 kWh capacity battery pack than what is available in Europe. The range will be dependent on the drivetrain and the ID.Buzz will be offered in two configurations at launch.
A rear-wheel drive single-motor variant will output 282 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque and has a targeted EPA range of about 260 miles. The all-wheel drive version will kick up the power to 330 horsepower. Adding a second motor will diminish the range by about eight miles with an EPA target of 252 miles. Again, these are targets and by the time the EPA tests the ID.Buzz they could fluctuate slightly.
Helping the ID.Buzz potentially exceed the 250 miles of range mark is the drag coefficient of 0.29 making it a surprisingly slippery bus. So while it looks like a box, it moves through the air nearly as smoothly as the more aerodynamic-looking Toyota Sienna with its 0.28 drag coefficient.
While the battery chemistry is the same for the U.S. and European-spec vehicles, Volkswagen notes that the motors in the American vehicle are an update to what we’ve seen in the European-spec vehicles with improved thermal management.
For charging, the vehicle supports up to 200kW at a compatible DC fast charging station and 11kW for at-home AC charging. That’s a nice upgrade over the ID.4’s peak charging rate of 125kW.
Flashback to the future interior
Inside we’re seeing additional updates over the European model. Notably the inclusion of two powered rear sliding windows in the back and the addition of rear HVAC vents.
The removable third row opens up the seating to seven (six if you go for the optional captain’s chairs in the second row). Meanwhile, the second row tilts and moves forward four inches to assist ingress and egress into the back seat. Once seated, the second row can move forward or back 7.9 inches, giving those in the second row either more leg room, increasing leg room for those in the third row, or increasing cargo space behind the second row.
Up front, the Buzz continues the retro design of the exterior while offering plenty of storage space and nods to the past and concept vehicle. Easter eggs fill the interior, including VW adding the play and pause symbols to the accelerator and brake as we saw on the concept way back in 2017.
The infotainment system has a new architecture with more memory and a new CPU to reduce the latency that was experienced in the ID.4 at launch. It sits behind a 12.9-inch touchscreen. The latest version of VW’s infotainment system also supports true over-the-air software updates, and, according to the automaker, instead of taking up to a minute to set a navigation route, it should now only take a few seconds. (If that proves to be accurate, it would be a huge improvement from VW’s previous forays into software.)
While we were unable to take the vehicle for a spin, it’s clear that Volkswagen has taken what it’s learned from the ID.4 and the launch of the short wheelbase ID.Buzz in Europe to enhance the U.S. version headed to the States in 2024.
Now we just need to wait. Again. Which is sort of the theme of the ID.Buzz at this point. Still, if they get it out in time for summer, it’ll hit all those nostalgia vibes for owners and their six closest friends.
That is if you can get one, because even with all the waiting, it’s still one of the most hotly anticipated vehicles in years.