DETROIT -- Volkswagen’s latest conceptual take on its historic Microbus uses a powerful battery pack and two electric motors to transform the once anemically powered hippie-mobile into an all-wheel-drive, high-capacity autonomous minivan.
The I.D. Buzz concept -- to be unveiled by VW on Monday at the Detroit auto show -- features a floor-mounted 111-kWh battery pack and up to 369 hp with an effective range of up to 270 miles under U.S. standards, the automaker said.
The Buzz is built from VW’s Modular Electric Drive Kit, or MEB, which also underpins the compact I.D. hatchback concept the automaker showed at the 2016 Paris auto show.
Like the earlier concept, the I.D. Buzz concept features the automaker’s I.D. Pilot autonomous driving system with a squared steering wheel that fully retracts into the instrument panel when the autonomous driving system is engaged.
VW said it envisions the concept in two different optional powertrain configurations. In some regions, a rear-drive single motor would produce 268 hp and be paired with a smaller 83 kWh battery pack. Elsewhere, the Buzz would employ an all-wheel-drive, two-motor configuration that distributes power from the larger battery pack between the two axles electrically.
VW says that in its all-wheel-drive configuration, the battery-powered I.D. Buzz can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds. The automaker said its battery pack can be recharged to 80 percent of capacity in as little as 30 minutes using high-energy recharging systems.
Inside the cabin, especially in autonomous mode, the I.D. Buzz concept looks more like a lounge than a traditional people-hauler, especially with its railed customizable seating system.
In full autonomous mode, front seats can swivel rearward, with the seatbacks of the center-row seats able to be folded to form tables, and the third-row seating capable of being made into a bed, the automaker said.