Volkswagen’s all-electric, self-driving twist on the 1960s hippie van, the I.D. Buzz, was named 2017 Concept Truck of the Year, giving momentum to the automaker’s revamped electrification strategy as it strives to distance itself from its Dieselgate emissions scandal.
The win, announced on Sunday at the Concours d’Elegance of America in Plymouth, Mich., is a step forward for the automaker, which shifted its emphasis to battery-powered cars and trucks after it admitted to manipulating the results of its diesel emissions tests. The I.D. Buzz is one of three autonomous electric vehicle concepts Volkswagen has revealed. The automaker’s smaller van concept, the BUDD-e, won last year’s Concept Truck of the Year award.
“Volkswagen will lead the world in the shift to electric mobility, and the I.D. Buzz demonstrates the kind of innovative design and engineering that’s a trademark of VWs past and future,” Abdallah Shanti, Volkswagen of America’s executive vice president, said in a statement.
Revealed in January at the Detroit Auto Show, the I.D. (which Volkswagen says can stand for “identity,” “idea,” “individual,” “intelligent,” or “iconic design”) Buzz retains the boxy proportions that harken back to the 1960s heyday of the hippie van but adds several features appropriate to its reported 2022 production date. It has a retractable steering wheel that recedes into the dashboard when in self-driving mode and is programmed with software that can communicate with pedestrians. Like its predecessor, the next-generation minibus provides ample cargo space, can be reconfigured for sleeping, and seats up to eight.
Built on the automaker’s new platform for electric vehicles, the I.D. Buzz can travel up to 270 miles using its all-wheel drive system and accelerate from zero to 60 mph in five seconds. Volkswagen has electronically capped the van’s top speed at 99 mph. The platform, called the Modular Electric Drive Matrix, can accommodate a rear-wheel drive system with a single electric motor or the I.D. Buzz’s all-wheel drive configuration with one motor in the front and one in the back.