Volkswagen is FINALLY putting a retro Microbus into production!

Categories: Mobility

The thing about the original VW Bus was that it was a car to enjoy with others. Family, friends, hitchhikers, strangers, vagrants, animals. It didn't really matter, but it was a car that was built around community and travel together. Along with the Beetle, the Bus gave VW its quirky, friendly reputation that still exists among many.

No matter what else is unveiled in 2017, this will remain the concept that most needs to be built. Why? First, nobody sells a mainstream electric minivan. So, duh, get there first. Second, VW needs this—not just for sales, but for image. Its emissions scandal tainted diesel in the United States, so it is VW's duty to go all-out to remind its customers of the counterculture good ol' days, when its cackling little buses were the quintessential expression of disdain for The Man, armed conflict, and your dad's expectation that you'd join the law firm, not become a compost farmer upstate. After time spent in the wrong, it's time for VW to channel some Cheech and Chong.

FLEXIBLE POWER: The I.D. could be either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The AWD configuration has 369 horsepower and a zero-to-60 time of 5.0 seconds. That compares favorably to the original buses, some of which began a zero-to-60 run in 1973 and are still trying to get there.

NICE RANGE: The I.D.'s biggest battery pack, at 111 kilowatthours of capacity, would top anything currently on the market. Its predicted range, 270 miles, would allow for highway trips, given that the battery can absorb an 80 percent charge in 30 minutes. It can also charge inductively, if you trust that voodoo.

FULL AUTONOMY: No, you're not hallucinating: The steering wheel really does retract into the dashboard. This is I.D. Pilot, a fully autonomous mode that could go into production by 2025. The key hardware is laser scanners that deploy from the roof. Somewhat less crucial: The interior lights also switch from white to warm mood lighting.

AUGMENTED REALITY: No, you're not hallucinating (Part 2): Directions and other information are projected in an augmented-reality overlay that appears as virtual images out ahead of the car. But if reality is only a construction, is it even possible for it to be augmented, or is that just more reality, man?

At the Detroit Auto Show in January, Volkswagen showed off the I.D. Buzz concept, an all-electric tribute to the iconic Microbus of the 1960s (and PM named it this year's concept car of the year). This was the latest in a long line of concepts recalling the Type 2, but this could very well be one that the company will actually build. Speaking to Auto Express, VW brand chief HerbertDiess said the company has decided to put the I.D. Buzz into production.

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