Volkswagen is looking to the past to help define its future with an electrified, autonomous update of its Microbus camper van that left the U.S. automotive landscape in the late 1960s as a result of the "chicken tax" tariff.
The automaker brought its I.D. Buzz concept vehicle to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and showed it off side-by-side with its classic relative. As part of its move away from diesel power, Volkswagen has set its sights on electrification. The automaker hopes to sell 1 million battery-electric vehicles by 2025.
The I.D. Buzz offers a range of 270 miles with seating for eight and two luggage compartments. If the vehicle is produced, it's overall length of 194.6 inches would put it in the mid-size van category that's now only occupied by the Mercedes-Benz Metris that measures 202.4 inches in length. The longest Ford Transit Connect is 189.7 inches.
Volkswagen describes the I.D. Buzz as "the world's first autonomous multi-purpse vehicle" that could make it into production by 2025. 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.
The van's touch-sensitive steering wheel includes capacitive surfaces, and the interior includes an augmented reality head-up display and I.D. Box center console with a tablet that's usable outside the vehicle.