Home » The Most Exciting Thing About The VW ID.Buzz Electric Van — The Camper Version — May Be Indefinitely Delayed

The Most Exciting Thing About The VW ID.Buzz Electric Van — The Camper Version — May Be Indefinitely Delayed

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A huge part of the charm and appeal of the Volkswagen Microbus is tied up in the idea of sleeping in one. From Boomers’ memories filthy hippies doing filthy hippy things in the back of them as hazily, to Gen-X’ers remembering family vacations in pop-top Westfalia VW campmobiles, to recent generations longing for the new “California” variants of the modern VW Transporters that we are denied (with some cruelty) here in America, a huge part of the excitement at the re-introduction of the Microbus to America as the electric ID.Buzz. is that there may be a version designed to camp in. And that was VW’s plan from early on, to have an electric camper called the ID.California, named for the place that wants it the most despite being denied it for years. It sounds great, right? I bet you can’t wait to try one out! Also, how about this: too bad! Well, at least if what this German website called Edison is reporting is true, because they’re saying that it now looks like the ID.Buzz will have to wait even to longer get a camper version, thanks to that perpetual ID.Buzzkill, weight. Cruel, stupid, weight.

Well, shit. I mean, this can’t be that unexpected: take an already heavy electric van and shove in some beds and a fridge and a stove and a sink and yeah, it’s going to get heavier. And heavier means reduced range. And reduced range means nobody wants to buy an EV.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

In case you’re unclear why a camper version of the ID.Buzz is a big deal, I can remind you of how good VW’s recent combustion-engine-based California T6.1 is with this engaging moving picture of David and I spending a solid 24 hours in one without setting foot outside:

If that’s not enough to convince you, here’s a selection of VW campervan ads from over the years:

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Campers

These are charming, wonderful vehicles, and of course people were eagerly anticipating an ID.Buzz with a pop-up roof and a sink and fridge and the joys of camping, but more environmentally kind and with the quiet tranquility of an EV motor. A December 2021 press release from VW’s Commercial Vehicle division in Hannover made pretty clear the intent to produce the ID.California:

The board also approved the capital expenditure for VWCV’s all-electric ID. California campervan and other derivatives of VWCV.

Bertina Murkovic, Chair of the Works Council at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, explains: “After the disappointment of Porsche deciding against the Hannover site, we have now agreed the investment for a future of high utilisation levels in Hannover and good strategic prospects for the VWCV brand. The fact that we are developing the ID. Buzz into the camper segment too is good news for Hannover!

“The ID. California based on the ID. Buzz will combine the ongoing trend towards mobile leisure arrangements with sustainable CO2-neutral mobility. Made by VWCV!”

They seemed pretty excited about all of this over at the Commercial Vehicle division, but this Edison article suggests that there will be significant delays:

As assured in Hanover, a camper based on the ID.Buzz with an extended wheelbase cannot be ruled out forever. Intensive work is still being done on such a variant, which VW had already announced in December 2021 . But launching sales in this decade – in the meantime speculation had been made that sales would start in 2025 – would be a major challenge. This would require a new storage technology that brings significant advantages in terms of weight, power density and range, but is also cheaper. In other words: the start of sales will be delayed by a few years – but the project will not be abandoned by VW Commercial Vehicles.

The requirements of “a new storage technology that brings significant advantages in terms of weight, power density and range, but is also cheaper” sounds like someone is describing the EV holy grail, so, yeah, that would be amazing, not just for an ID.California, but for every EV everywhere.

I reached out to VW to potentially confirm any delays in an electric camper, and was told by my very quick-responding VW rep that “I can’t comment, since I honestly don’t know.” He’s always been a straight shooter.

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What is known is that there will be a plug-in hybrid version of the California, based on the long-wheelbase VW T7 Multivan, which is also a vehicle we don’t get in America, but one that seems like a pretty good choice for a camper, arguably better than a battery-electric at this point.

VW did very recently show a teaser rendering of this new California that will be at the Caravan Salon trade show on August 25, in Dusseldorf, Germany. That rendering shows a pop-top camper with a front-end design that resembles the ID.Buzz, but must actually be based on the Multivan:

Idcali Render

I don’t actually think this is a bad move for VW; an ID.Buzz-based camper that had a compromised range and only allowed adventuring a trivial number of miles from home would have been sort of a disaster. Isn’t the point of a camper that you can go anywhere, adventure out into the unknown, but always with the confidence that you’ll have a warm bed to sleep in and can make a tray of Pizza Rolls if needed?

On the other hand, perhaps there’s no better EV to be stuck with a low range than a camper. Sure, you have to recharge all the time, but at least you can take a comfortable nap or play strip Pente with a gin and tonic in the privacy of your own little house on wheels every 100 miles or whatever. That’s better than nothing, right? Also, it’s worth noting that there is nothing stopping you or anyone from camping in an ID.Buzz. People are doing it already, and there are already options for slide-out kitchens and other camping equipment. There’s a VW employee I’ve met several times who has been traveling all over Europe living in an ID.Buzz, nonstop, and he seems delighted every time I see him. So, don’t let VW’s trepidation stop you if this is your dream.

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Well, I guess it doesn’t matter. VW could certainly soften the blow by bringing the hybrid, Multivan-based California to America, but I think the chances of that happening are about as good as me finally winning a game of strip Pente.

Relatedbar

VW’s 22-Year Old Modern Microbus Concept Was Shockingly Close To The ID.Buzz EV Bus We Got

2023 VW ID.Buzz First Drive: Why This Electric Van Is So Important For Volkswagen And For EVs Overall

2023 VW ID.Buzz EV: Here Are All The Easter Eggs

The Three-Row 2023 VW ID.Buzz Electric Microbus: Here’s An Insider’s Look At The Global Reveal Of Volkswagen’s Important New EV

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What me?
What me?
10 months ago

The big problem with the heigher weight of the idbuzz compared to the ice version T5/6/7 is that max load is 3000 kg for both versions. The ICE version bare is just 2000 kg, add 400 kg for the camper conversion stuff and you have 600 kg payload (which has to include 80 liter diesel, a driver and a full watertank at least).
The buzz starts at 2400 kg, add the 400 kg camper stuff and you have a payload left of 200 kg. You don’t need the 80 kg of diesel, that something, but 2 adults and water and your there…

(Writing this while laying in the top bed of my T5 cali in western Norway.)

My Skoda is the Most Superb
My Skoda is the Most Superb
10 months ago

I got the latest VW Multivan LWB as my rental vehicle when I visited Portugal last summer. Like the Multivan California “concept” shown here it had the PHEV powertrain. As a VW fanboy I was obsessed with the thing. Huge second and third rows, plenty of storage for 6 people’s worth of luggage, and plenty economical. Only thing that sucked was that I couldn’t utilize any level 2 chargers in Portugal since my phone’s app store was set to the US (obviously) so I couldn’t download the necessary apps, and every l2 charger I came across was accessible only by app, no credit card reader.

IIRC the LWB is still only about 195″ long and I’d just love for VW to bring it over stateside as a smaller Sienna/Odyssey/Pacifica alternative but that will truly never happen. Gonna have to wait for the Buzz.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
10 months ago

Reading news about the ID Buzz is like going to the same shitty movie over and over and expecting it to end differently. Between the 20 years of hype and the less-than-exciting final version, I just don’t give a crap anymore.

DadBod
DadBod
10 months ago

I don’t get why VW doesn’t sell the T6 California here, they would make piles of dough. I have a 2003 Eurovan Weekender and people love it and ask me about it every time I am parked anywhere. It’s such a fun vehicle, and I plan to do a TDI+manual swap when the transmission inevitably blows apart.
I’m not even pretending to want a Buzz Camper, even if it happens I could never afford it.

Jakob Johansen
Jakob Johansen
10 months ago

“only allowed adventuring a trivial number of miles from home would have been sort of a disaster.”

I am aware that the US, in general, should be considered a 3rd world country when it comes to infrastructure, but I bet you that you will be able to recharge an electric car/camper in more remote places than you can fuel your ICE car.

You will travel at a different pace, but what do you know, it may be good for you.

Edit: You will even be able to prolong your stay indefinitely, by bringing 10+ square meter of rollable solar panels.

Last edited 10 months ago by Jakob Johansen
21CenturySchizoidMan
21CenturySchizoidMan
10 months ago
Reply to  Jakob Johansen

How could you recharge in remote areas easier than refueling? You can always have a few jerry cans of fuel out in the wilderness.

And what’s a “square meter”? Here in Freedom-land (TM) we measure in yards! Or Freedom-feet!

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
10 months ago

One G&T every hundred miles? I hope not for the driver. The way I make ’em, I’d be shitfaced going anyplace over three hours away.

Loudog
Loudog
10 months ago

GM: Here’s my new Escalade IQ with enough mass to cause the Earth to wobble. VW: don’t eat too much before getting into our super anticipated Buzz. No camper for you!

Mike TowpathTraveler
Mike TowpathTraveler
10 months ago

I bought a new 2000 New Beetle TDI based on everything I’ve read about the Freeman Thomas designedType 1 Beetle show car, topped off by a very glowing review by the late, great Brock Yates at Car & Driver.It took very little time for that great show car to hit the world markets, relatively intact as compared to this far too long time it’s taken VW to get this van built and for sale.

The problem I see it with VW today is the lack of a passionate car guy at the helm, Say, a hard driver tough ass like Ferdinand Piech, who was running the VW autogroup in those days. Had the Peich of 1997-2000 been running VW in these days, I have no doubt that it would not have taken as ridiculously long as this ID Buzz took to come to market and specifically, that the American market would have been treated by VW Corporate as some hayseed back water minor market. And there would be no further doubt that there would not be an ID Buzz sitting in VW showrooms, including the Camper version…….right now.

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
10 months ago

We’re barely going to get the regular version of the ID.Buzz here! IIRC, they are production-constrained to something like 90,000 units a year worldwide. They have to be thinking of adding a line to build these in Chattanooga or Mexico, right?! It would be insanity not to.

Last edited 10 months ago by Mr. Fusion
John E
John E
10 months ago

I’ve lived off-grid solar for 11 years (still do) and followed solar advances religiously for 25+ years. The weight and energy density issue in storage has always been the holy grail. And I have bad news for those of you who think a breakthrough is just around the corner: it isn’t. Lithium Ion and Lithium Iron are as good as it’s ever been and it’s barely changed in 20 years. This ID California and all the other EV’s that are “almost here” are all predicated on some giant breakthrough in battery tech. Frankly, I don’t think it’s going to happen in our lifetime. Solid state batteries show the most promise but are still massively heavy. You know what the most power dense and cost effective home energy storage is? Lead acid. And only fairly wealthy people can afford things like LIo and PowerBank storage. Why? Because battery tech has barely moved in the last 20 years. You can smoke the granola and preach about the “electric future”, but as of now, it’s a pipe dream no different than cars running on water in the 1970’s.

Goose
Goose
10 months ago
Reply to  John E

Why do you think lithium batteries haven’t improved much over the last 20 years? They have gotten huge improvements in cost, energy density, safety, life span, charge rates, etc over the past 20+ years. I mean, a simple Google brings up multiple sources about how drastically batteries have improved over such a short period of time.

https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2021/ee/d0ee02681f

Torque
Torque
10 months ago
Reply to  Goose

Exactly. Look up Tony Seba his predictions on battery & solar improvements have been accurate for the past 11 years.
Lithium ion batteries have improved (cost per kilo, density, cycle life, recharge times) have improved at a rate of 14-16 % consistently year over year in the past 20 years.

John E
John E
10 months ago
Reply to  Torque

Put the granola pipe down. “Year over year” is not true.

John E
John E
10 months ago
Reply to  Goose

It has been a moderate and incremental gain. No. They aren’t getting revolutionary gains. It’s only by stacking a crap ton of them together they are getting “more power”. You can do the same with lead acid, if the weight weren’t an issue. You need to actually read details like how many amp hours per pound and things like that. Even Tesla admits their gains since 2014 have been by making THE CAR more efficient. The batteries aren’t much better. Maybe 20-25%.

Torque
Torque
10 months ago
Reply to  John E

Nothing to do with ones choice of grain foods… this has to do with the green of another kind (money & capitalism)
Top search results for cost of lithium battery per kwh over time…

https://ourworldindata.org/battery-price-decline

And
https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2021/ee/d0ee02681f
Which states a battery cost improvement also of 97% from 1991 till today (for lithium ion) & year over year improvements of between 13 – 17%.

I look forward to your sited examples proving otherwise

John E
John E
10 months ago
Reply to  Goose

P.s. Take another look at “energy density” figures. Cost, life span and recharging will impact the price and livability but have virtually NO impact on how far and long you can use them to move a vehicle. As I said, in energy storage it has been small, incremental gains. Why the #!$@ do you think a Porsche sedan weighs over 5000 pounds?

Torque
Torque
10 months ago
Reply to  John E

Regarding energy density improvements in lithium ion batteries, this is a Quote From the 2nd article I posted above (about 2/3rds down the article…

“These data show that from 1991 through 2018, achievable energy density rose from approximately 200 W h L−1 to over 700 W h L−1 while specific energy rose from approximately 80 W h kg−1 to over 250 W h kg−1. ” & it includes a handy graph which sadly I can’t include here

So in roughly 30 years of lithium battery tech. advancements there has been a 3 fold increase in energy density.

Given the significant advantage both gas & even more 1 gallon of diesel have compared to battery energy density, Certainly batteries have a LONG way to go before they can completely replace ice for all applications in light duty personal transportation

John E
John E
10 months ago
Reply to  Torque

Hey, genius, NOT IN THE LAST 20 YEARS, as I said. Yes. The 1990’s-early 2000’s had huge advancements in battery storage. Much less IN THE LAST 20 YEARS, as I said. You are a classic granola-smoking utopianist. Clicking your heels together three times and wishing hasn’t changed it. There is no energy storage that can replace ICE as of now. It is unlikely in our lifetimes and the leftists in government mandating this conversion are going to have to kick the can back down the road several times before it becomes reality.

Goose
Goose
10 months ago
Reply to  John E

Just keep ignoring everyone’s posts and doing a whole bunch of “What about….”, it’s cool. Honestly, some simple googling will show you that lithium batteries have made SUBSTANTIAL gains over the past 20+ years across all cost/performance/reliability metrics.

Why the #!$@ do you think a Porsche sedan weighs over 5000 pounds?

Just because there is still room for improvement doesn’t mean massive improvement hasn’t been made.

Last edited 10 months ago by Goose
Jakob Johansen
Jakob Johansen
10 months ago
Reply to  John E

I like how you start out by building up some sort of credibility with: “I’ve lived off-grid solar for 11 years (still do) and followed solar advances religiously for 25+ years.

It sounds to me like you invested in deep cycle lead acid batteries, minutes before they became obsolete and now your are mad about it.

Or perhaps, just perhaps you are just lying or a combination of both.

John E
John E
10 months ago
Reply to  Jakob Johansen

You id…uniformed people posting articles that DON’T show what you think it shows are no different than Lenin’s useful…uninformed people. If you had ANY knowledge of battery storage you would delete your ignorant post in shame. Lead acid are good for 5-7 years under the best conditions, genius. Lithium iron are getting about 10 at 4-5 times the cost. And knowing HOW MUCH energy batteties can store makes ALL the difference off-grid. If you had ANY idea of the stupidity you just posted, well, you’d still post it because Lenin was right. Every revolution needs unintelligent foot soldiers armed with fanatacism and the belief they know what the have no idea about. Power density is the key. Those other improvements aren’t improving that. Toyoda was right.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
10 months ago

Buying a camper van to go camping and buying a camper van so you look like you go camping are two different customer bases. The latter will happily pay some janky conversion company a lot of money for the proper look. They’ll drive 40 miles to the state park, spend the night, drive home, and wonder why the unwashed masses don’t go electro-glamping. I’m not insulting electric, I’m insulting bad fads.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
10 months ago
Reply to  Dodsworth

Gatekeeping how people camp is bad form. I wouldn’t rough it for a variety of reasons but one night at a redwood forest park 90 minutes away sounds awesome.

Ted Fort
Ted Fort
10 months ago

Agreed. Isn’t one night in “nature” and supporting a local park better than zero? I love long camping trips but the option of heading out after work on a Friday to spend a night by the lake is equally awesome.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
10 months ago
Reply to  Ted Fort

You’re right. I went off on a tangent and landed on my arse. I’m disappointed that the I.D. Buzz is so expensive and I fear conversion companies will do substandard work trying to make them even more expensive campers. It did sound like I was insulting short term camping and I apologize. Not my intent.

SubieSubieDoo
SubieSubieDoo
10 months ago

Volkswagen has heavily invested in a solid state battery startup called QuantumScape. If a solid state battery comes to fruition it would solve the range, weight, and size issues for most EV’s. I think QuantumScape has tested a 32 layer (maybe 16 layer?) battery, but it’s still a few years off from production. If their tech doesn’t work out, I’m sure VAG could go to Factorial, Ampcera, ProLigium, or one of the other eight or nine companies working on solid state products.

Usernametaken
Usernametaken
10 months ago

I for one am shocked, SHOCKED!

…well, not that shocked

Ineffable
Ineffable
10 months ago

No idea why range extenders died off.

They:
1) reduce the need for huge batteries, which:
2) reduces habitat loss, and:
3) reduce child slavery in Cobalt mines. They also:
4) reduce the use of fossil fuels overall
5) eliminate range anxiety
6) reduce charging times
7) reduce weight
8) solve all the problems
9) are a brilliant compromise until the mythical superbattery arrives.

They are a perfect solution, and I remain ineffably baffled.

Stealthwang
Stealthwang
10 months ago
Reply to  Ineffable

you’re basically describing a PHEV

by the time you’re stuffing a large enough range extender to allow this boat to actually reasonably drive on it, you’re better off just packaging and marketing it as a PHEV with a large all-electric range.

Last edited 10 months ago by Stealthwang
Ineffable
Ineffable
10 months ago
Reply to  Stealthwang

Maybe that’s true. Would be a good analysis for David Tracy to write up. If I sign up for the cloth membership, do I get to request articles?

MrLM002
MrLM002
10 months ago
Reply to  Stealthwang

Nope. A PHEV most of the time is an ICE vehicle with a electric motor or two shoehorned into it but said ICE vehicle wasn’t optimized to be a hybrid so it still has an inefficient and complex automatic transmission instead of a planetary e-CVT and the battery intrudes on interior space a good deal while having almost no usable range brand new, let alone once battery degradation sets in.

in BEV mode PHEVs have to push around the heavy ICE engine and transmission, in Hybrid mode the engine has to push around a much larger battery than needed.

A PHEV with an inoperable ICE engine is basically useless even IF it’ll drive. A BEV with an inoperable ICE range extender is very usable without said range extender.

A BEV with a range extender Maximizes the advantages of BEVs and ICE vehicles, a PHEV exaggerates the worst parts about BEVs and ICE vehicles.

Stealthwang
Stealthwang
10 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Purely anecdotally, every description I’ve read of driving the most recent generation of PHEVs comes off as pretty enjoyable (including the all-ICE and all-electric modes) – compared to every description I’ve read of long-distance driving on a BEV range extender alone as being a trip in an underpowered punishment box.

Maybe that doesn’t have to be the case, but my suspicion is that once you start packaging a large enough extender there are design considerations that make it more reasonable to instead consider building a PHEV with enough electric range for daily use. Only so much space to fit as many batteries as you’re recommending and a large enough engine to make driving in that mode feel good – not to mention weight. I don’t think there’s a conspiracy here, it’s been done before and I’m sure they’d have continued with it if they thought it had a future.

Agree that this would make a good article.

Last edited 10 months ago by Stealthwang
MrLM002
MrLM002
10 months ago
Reply to  Stealthwang

Why don’t you list some PHEVs off the top of your head that are optimized to be hybrids? I can think of 2 and both of them are Toyotas, the Prius PHEV and the Rav 4 PHEV.

You can make anything enjoyable, that’s a purely subjective term.

Stealthwang
Stealthwang
10 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Crown PHEV, CX90 PHEV

Thevenin
Thevenin
10 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

The Hyundai Ioniq PHEV and Kia Niro PHEV come to mind. While Toyota loves its planetary e-CVT hybrids, Hyundai/Kia have convinced me that DCTs can be just as efficient.

Unclesam
Unclesam
10 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Pacifica hybrid. I would assume the other Stellantis products with this drivetrain are similar to live with but have not experienced directly.

Last edited 10 months ago by Unclesam
Thevenin
Thevenin
10 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Engineer talking here. Trying to define a PHEV versus an EREV by describing components is begging to get yourself Diogenes’d. You can find both with nearly any drivetrain: planetary CVTs (Prius Prime vs Chevy Volt), series powertrain (Honda Accord PHEV vs VMW i3), through-the-ground (Mini Countryman PHEV vs Polestar 1).

The difference between a PHEV and an EREV is one of philosophy and priorities, not the physics of the power delivery.

Ineffable
Ineffable
10 months ago
Reply to  Thevenin

I don’t think the Chevy Volt or Polestar 1 count as having range extenders, as far as this non-engineer is concerned. The BMW i3 counts because it lacks the components of a mechanical gearbox, and the engine component is strictly a generator and is optimized for average power requirement, not peak. These engines can be smaller. You don’t see any PHEVs with scooter motors like the i3.

This is what I was thinking when I suggested a range extender in the VW bus: Li Auto One – Wikipedia. It is a large SUV with a 41kwh battery and a 1.2 L engine. Its electric range is 110 miles and its extended range is 430 miles. The chevy volt uses a 1.3L engine and it’s a tiny car.

Last edited 10 months ago by Ineffable
Unclesam
Unclesam
10 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

This does not describe my pacifica hybrid. I get 35-40 miles of electric-only range and it has AFAIK a planetary e-cvt. Not having 2nd row stow-n-go is an easy trade off. The packaging requirements are not arduous, although it is a fairly large vehicle.

Now that it’s summer we’ve been doing lots of multiple-hour trips on the weekends but during the week *never* use gas. It’s not a one size fits all solution, but there are a lot of single family with driveway houses so it could work for a lot of situations.

Last edited 10 months ago by Unclesam
Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
10 months ago

Is the winner in a game of strip Pente clothed or unclothed? I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. Also, I don’t believe the ID Buzz truly exists.

AssMatt
AssMatt
10 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Strip Pente sounds a lot like Aliens vs Predator(s): No matter who wins, we all lose.

Aardvark775
Aardvark775
10 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

I was in Spain recently and actually saw an ID Buzz on the road. Can confirm that at least one exists.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
10 months ago
Reply to  Aardvark775

So, it’s like the Cybertruck?

Pat Rich
Pat Rich
10 months ago

I am saddened by this news, but let’s be honest – When people look back on this generation of van lifers, it will be the Sprinter that people look back on, not the VW bus. If there is a rare version of sprinter, now is a good chance to scoop them up for future values when van lifer kids are being milked for that sweet nostalgia in 20 years. The dual range 4×4 pre-bluetec V6 maybe?

DadBod
DadBod
10 months ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

I see a ton of Sprinter campers in my vacationland area, and most of them are used by active retirees or young couples with tons of toys. I have yet to see a kid pop out of one. I don’t think a normal family can afford one for summer adventures, so not many kids will grow up with van camping etching into their memories. I do see hives of children at the campgrounds around the plasticy travel trailers.

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