VW's Re-Imagined Electric Microbus: An Early Test Drive

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back view of a blue and white VW electric minibus parked on grass

 peterolthof / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Well, it sure beats diesel...

When VW unveiled its concept for an autonomous, electric reinvention of the microbus, here's how TreeHugger Derek described his own reaction:

"I'd be willing to bet that there are more than a few of us nouveau hippie-types that would trade in their Subarus for an electric microbus, so hurry up and get this thing into production already, Volkswagen."

Other Reviews

Derek, it seems, was not alone. Fully Charged's Jonny Smith is positively gushing as he gets his hands on a drivable– if still very much concept – version of the ID Buzz in the video below. A few things worth noting:

• VW are still talking about a 2022 launch date
• Multiple configurations, including a camper, are still likely to be offered
• It's a good bit smaller than the original microbus
• It's still a pretty bloody big car

Beyond that, much of the video is taken up with the details of automotive design languages and comparisons between the original microbus and the ID Buzz. While that stuff is important to many TreeHugger readers, it's not something I can compete with Jonny Smith on. So please watch the video for the full details of how the split screen "face" was translated into the 21st century, and the importance of a strong rear pillar.

Historical Perspective

I do have one comment however: Jonny notes that VW was 'naughty' in regards to dieselgate. And this 'naughtiness' has now forced the bosses at VW to go all in on electric vehicles. He's not exactly wrong – indeed, the United States is getting a massive boost to its electric vehicle charging infrastructure thanks to the fallout from the emissions scandal.

But I take issue with the word 'naughty.'

That's the word I use when my kids sneak an extra candy. Or when a colleague makes an off-color joke. It's not a word that adequately describes systematic, deliberate cheating that poisoned the air and almost certainly claimed thousands of lives.

As someone who grew up camping in a VW microbus, I am by no means immune to the charm of an electric reinvention of a design classic. But let's not allow our enthusiasm and nostalgia dull our sense of outrage to one of the biggest corporate scandals of our time. That doesn't mean you shouldn't buy one. It just means that it doesn't get VW off the hook.

As always, if you like what the team at Fully Charged is up to, please consider supporting them through Patreon.