Volkswagen is among the companies that is shaping the future of electric mobility and has a clear plan to introduce electric vehicles (EVs) in large volume by the end of this decade. Following the world premiere of the compact I.D. in Paris last year, the German carmaker is displaying a second version this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Called the I.D. BUZZ, it is a microbus for a new era, a concept (for now) which links the origins of the Volkswagen brand and its electric future.
“The Volkswagen brand’s big electric offensive begins in the year 2020 with a completely new vehicle architecture. That is when we will be launching an entirely new generation of fully connected, all-electric vehicles to the market. By 2025, we want to be selling one million of these vehicles annually. We are making electric mobility the new trademark of Volkswagen,” said Dr. Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management for the Volkswagen brand.
Volkswagen is showing just how multifaceted electric mobility can be in Detroit with the I.D. BUZZ concept – maximum space utilization with all-wheel drive, electric motors at the front and rear axles, a fully autonomous driving mode (I.D. Pilot) and a new generation of display elements and controls.
The ‘I.D. BUZZ’ name was hardly an arbitrary choice: I.D. stands for ‘Identity’, ‘Idea’, ‘Individual’, ‘Intelligent’ and ‘Iconic Design’. ‘BUZZ’, on the other hand, is a phonetic word play on ‘bus’ and refers to the silent ‘buzzing’ of the drive system.
“The I.D. BUZZ is a next-generation vehicle based on the new Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB), offering comfort and plenty of space,” said Dr. Frank Welsch, Volkswagen Member of the Board of Management responsible for Development. “The overall concept of the I.D. BUZZ points the way to the future. This concept vehicle is the world’s first electric multi-purpose vehicle to be equipped with a fully autonomous driving mode. It carries the feeling of freedom of the Microbus over to a completely new era of mobility.”
Thanks to its MEB (extended) platform, space utilization is claimed to be better in the I.D. BUZZ than in any other electric vehicle. The multi-variable seating layout and interactive networking of the I.D. BUZZ provides many ways to use the vehicle.
The I.D. BUZZ is not only huge inside, but its technical concept makes it one of the world’s most comfortable cars. It has a silent drive system and an extremely long wheelbase. The floor-mounted battery lowers the vehicle’s centre of gravity and delivers ideal weight distribution.
The suspension layout—including multi-link rear suspension with integrated drive units and decoupled sub-frames at front and rear, as well as air suspension at the rear axle using electronically controlled dampers—delivers premium class comfort, high cornering power, and ideal acoustics.
The zero-emissions all-wheel drive system has a total output of 369 hp and an NEDC electric driving range of 600 kms. One electric motor at the front axle and one at the rear each deliver a power output of 201 hp, distributed between the two axles by an ‘electric propshaft’. The I.D. BUZZ shown in Detroit can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in about 5 seconds, with a governed top speed of just under 160 km/h.
The vehicle’s 111 kWh battery can be charged to 80% of its capacity within 30 minutes using the Combined Charging System or an inductive charging interface, with a charging rate of 150 kW. As an alternative, the battery can be charged from any conventional household outlet and at charging stations.
The all-wheel drive configuration is just one of several that are conceivable. Thanks to the MEB, it would be just as easy to equip the I.D. BUZZ with a rear-wheel drive setup producing up to 268 hp and a smaller 83 kWh battery, depending on the region and purpose of use.
The I.D. BUZZ is the world’s first fully autonomous multi-purpose vehicle. A slight push on the steering wheel makes it retract and merge into the instrument panel, switching the I.D. BUZZ from manual control to the fully autonomous ‘I.D. Pilot’ mode that could make it into production by 2025. In this mode, the wheel is decoupled from the steering gear via a newly-developed steering column system. The ambient lighting then switches from white light (DRIVE) to mood lighting that is warm and relaxed. At the same time, the distribution of ambient lighting is extended to the rear seating area. Simultaneously, the status of the I.D. BUZZ can be seen at all times on the tablet and the augmented reality head-up display.
The I.D. BUZZ is not only able to detect other road users with its laser sensors, but also with the assistance of ultrasonic sensors, radar sensors, side area view cameras and a front camera. Traffic data is also continually acquired and compared with the vehicle data via the cloud. Fully autonomous mode is deactivated by touching the steering wheel or by pressing the brake or accelerator pedal.