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VW “Bulli” goes electric with ID.Buzz

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The ID.Buzz is in the output blocks. As the all-electric representative of the VW Group’s light commercial vehicles, the Bulli descendant will soon also receive the first series features for autonomous driving. What is probably the biggest model launch of the year for Volkswagen is imminent.

Almost exactly 72 years have passed since VW assembled the first editions of what would later become flower power cars in Hannover; now the ID.Buzz will carry on the legacy of the “Bullis” in the electric world. The stakes are high for the company and the brand.

(Image: Getty Images)

The e-bus is the first contribution of light commercial vehicles (VWN) to the new ID series, and in the medium term it aims to be a kind of series launch for autonomous driving functions. In addition, there are high expectations from customers: not only those nostalgic for the T1 era should take a close look.

The drive technology based on the MEB electrical construction kit is already known from other branches of ID. The ID.Buzz gets extra attention because it’s also about networking in depth. At the IAA auto show in September, VW unveiled an autonomous prototype version.

Tests are underway with US partner Argo AI before series production is planned for 2025. The autonomous Bullis will be used, for example, in robot taxi services. The Moia shuttle service, currently specially geared towards Hamburg, will also be included in the model in future. Later, private customers and logistics will also be able to use the technology.

From 2030 fleet operations and first private cars

One main objective: to reduce and ideally prevent accidents. VW also cooperates with the American car giant Ford through Argo and joint models based on the electronic platforms are planned. Group CEO Herbert Diess told the German Press Agency: “By 2030, we expect to see fleet companies and also private cars, some of which are driving autonomously. It may be a little earlier, it may be a little later.” However, a project for the World Cup in Qatar with 35 self-propelled e-shuttles that started later this year has been put on hold for the time being.

WW Group wants to show green efforts

In addition to its purpose as a “major pillar in the electric offensive” (Diess), the ID.Buzz is intended to set the pace for autonomous driving. The group also wants to use it to showcase their green efforts. “The drivers of this development are not only stricter emission regulations, but also the growing awareness of the environment and sustainability,” it was said in general before the presentation.

Apart from the purely battery-electric drive, this comes into play in the use of recycled materials such as plastic bottles. The CO2 balance can be improved by more than 30 percent. VWN also dispenses with animal materials like leather in the ID.Buzz. Instead, the plastics are used for seat covers and interior accessories.

After the EU’s “Green Deal” decision, the group adjusted its climate targets. By the end of this decade, average CO2 emissions in Europe for flagship brand VW passenger cars will be reduced by 40 percent. The Group as a whole is targeting a 30 percent reduction by 2030, also based on the 2018 base year. However, environmentalists criticize the fact that Volkswagen does not give clearly defined dates for the phase-out of the combustion engine. , as formulated by some other manufacturers and countries.

Delivery van version of the ID.Buzz

VWN also offers a van version of the ID.Buzz. On the one hand, this could create internal competition for the classic T-Transporter. On the other hand, the old Bulli already played an important role as a craft vehicle by making the car the entry-level model for Hanoverians, for many comparable to the Beetle or the Golf of the main brand.

The market is competitive, with the French and Japanese in particular participating with their vans in the global boom in parcel and delivery services. Consequently, VWN probably also wants to appeal to business customers with an interior that “takes stylistic elements from the T1 generation and transfers them to the current era of electromobility.”

The investments of the largest automobile group in Europe during the next five years are significant. In the areas of electrification and digitization alone, a sum of double-digit billions is flowing throughout the Group. In Hanover, in addition to the new VWN vehicles, several versions of a luxury SUV with its own software will soon be added, a joint project by Audi, Porsche and Bentley, which aims to take market share from its American rival Tesla.

production and the world of work itself

Models like the ID.Buzz are also changing production and the working environment for employees: VWN’s headquarters in Hannover, like Zwickau and Emden, as well as parts of the US plant in Chattanooga and factories in China, will be completely converted. to production. of electric cars. “It’s a huge leap for colleagues, but it’s also a streamlining drive that hasn’t been matched to date,” said production manager Josef Baumert in the fall. Last but not least, the new world of the automotive industry is reflected in the qualification profiles of the workforce. It’s no longer just about assembling hardware: data analytics, software, and superior mechatronics are in demand above all.

Video: New solid-state batteries for e-cars: will charging time soon be like refueling?

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