Volkswagen's I.D. Buzz Cargo concept is making its auto show debut in Los Angeles this week and, in many ways, it answers a question the market has been asking for some time now: why should not cargo vans all be electrics?
So-called range anxiety has been the stumbling block for electric vehicles for some time now, as charging infrastructure is just not there yet in the US. and other parts of the world, and consumers want the ability to drive without worrying about running out of juice. I think this anxiety is largely misplaced, as most people do not drive more than 100 or 150 miles a day, and many of today 's electrics can do that on a single charge. Electrics make even more sense in the realm of delivery vehicles, especially in urban environments where delivery trucks make lots and lots of short trips.
Enter the I.D. Buzz Cargo, a version of which Volkswagen first showed off last year. It's now in L.A. and, Volkswagen said Tuesday, could be launched by 2022. I would not bank on that, but the I.D. Buzz Cargo does a lot of things right, and is the direction we should headlong.
It's built on the familiar skateboard architecture, and VW says that it can get up to 340 miles on a single charge, or more than enough to be a delivery vehicle, urban environment or not. Inside, it's full of neat tricks:
The interior has been customized for commercial use, down to the smallest detail. Instead of two single seats in front, the concept car is equipped with a driver's seat and a double bench seat on the front passenger side. The middle seat can be folded down to open up a workspace where the driver can use an integrated laptop. In the automated "I.D. Pilot mode, this can be done on the move. The driver activates the autonomous mode by simply pushing the steering wheel for a few seconds, which then retracts into the instrument panel. Then the driver's seat can be turned 15 degrees to the right, allowing the on-board computer to operate from the ideal ergonomic position.
Volkswagen has also thought, possibly too much, about a shelving system in the back:
The cargo compartment starts behind the first seat row and a bulkhead. In collaboration with the German equipment specialist Sortimo, a shelving system with sensors has been developed for the cargo area. This shelving system is connected to the vehicle via a customer-specific function control unit and a CAN interface. The data is transmitted by WLAN to tablets in the cargo space and cockpit. By means of a mobile radio network, the functional control unit may communicate with a company's job or order management system, theoretically making it possible to track all articles on the shelves. This enables precise online management of the type and quantity of freight and equipment in this futuristic transporter.
I love all of this, and it's nice to see that the VW minivan gets back to its roots, since before it was the preferred ride for hippies, the microbus was for cargo first and foremost.