Despite appearances, the Volkswagen ID. Buzz is not a new VW camper. But the looks aren’t entirely deceptive – there will be a new electric campervan based on VW’s ID. Buzz in 2025.
For now, there are MPV and commercial vehicle versions of the Buzz, hinting at what the all-electric California camper will be like in a couple of years. There’s plenty of promise, but also a rather long list of challenges to overcome.
Let’s look at the positives first. Volkswagen has found the sweet spot between modernity and retro with the design of the ID. Buzz. There are plenty of visual references to the old Type 1 camper, especially with the two-tone finish. We found it hard not to smile every time we looked at the Buzz.
The turning circle is tiny, so it’s easy to manoeuvre. You sit high, with a driving position that is more SUV than MPV. The ID. Buzz is forgiving of bumpy roads and with 204hp, has plenty of poke. But at 2.5t, it is brisk rather than quick.
Power goes to the rear wheels, although there will be a four-wheel-drive model from 2024. There’s a strong chance four-wheel drive will be an option when the campervan arrives, too.
The first models on sale are short-wheelbase, at 4.7m long. That would surely make a cramped camper. But VW plans to build the California on the long-wheelbase version, available in MPV form from the end of 2023.
That should free up space, but there are still challenges – for VW, converters and owners – in developing and running all-electric campers. As an MPV, the ID. Buzz has a range of 255-258 miles, depending on spec. Add the weight of four people, the pop-up roof and habitation equipment, and that range is bound to shrink.
A bigger battery is on the way, but even so, touring in an electric camper will inevitably require more patience and planning than driving a diesel vehicle.
Independent campervan converters will surely be considering their own rivals to VW’s in-house effort. However, the long-wheelbase ID. Buzz will only be available as an MPV, not as a commercial vehicle. There’s nothing to stop a converter basing their conversion on the MPV, but this will put up costs.
We spoke to Ant Sullivan, Dormobile’s brand manager, about the future potential for electric campervans based on the ID. Buzz.
“The key word here is ‘caution’,” he told us. “The concerns we have are range – obviously crucial for a camper – and weight. And the two are linked.”
It will be fascinating to see how VW approaches the challenge of building an electric California, and how and when independent converters respond.
A comfortable and practical MPV, but there are many challenges to overcome in converting the ID. Buzz into a campervan.
What we like:
Looks great; comfortable ride; roomy interior
What we don’t like:
- Restrictive range; likely to make a costly camper
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