The Evolution of the Volkswagen Bus

The Evolution of the Volkswagen Bus
Volkswagen is making a whole new kind of vehicle with the ID.Buzz, an EV van for transporting the whole family in style and comfort for a reasonable price. In a market full of EVs that are either very small or incredibly expensive, or both, the ID.Buzz promises to make electric vehicles viable for a whole new segment of the population. But for all its newness, the ID.Buzz is part of a line of VW vehicles that stretches back decades.

Early Days – The Type 2

1954 Volkswagen Type 2
Volkswagen Type 2 Westfalia Camper
The styling inspiration for the ID.Buzz is the original Volkswagen Type 2. This was known by many names, Transporter, Kombi, Samba, Microbus, but often just Bus in the US. Originally conceived as a van version of the Type 1 (Beetle), and built sharing quite a few mechanical components, the Type 2 was an affordable and highly practical vehicle that quickly gained worldwide popularity. Although they were first introduced in 1950, the Type 2 reached iconic status in the US during the 60s, as the vehicle most closely associated with the hippie movement. In Brazil, second-generation Type 2s stayed in production until 2013, only stopping then because of new safety regulations.

Volkswagen Microbus Concept 2001

Microbus Concept

After Volkswagen successfully relaunched the Beetle as the New Beetle in 1998, the idea arose to reintroduce the Bus as well. Retro vehicles were becoming all the rage, and in 2001 VW brought out the Microbus Concept. Though the engine was water-cooled, and in the front, the styling was a clear nod to the original Type 2. The concept looked like it was intended for production, but VW never actually got it off the ground.

Volkswagen Bulli Concept 2011


With electric vehicles really becoming viable for the mass market, Volkswagen saw this as an opportunity to try again with a new Bus concept in 2011. Called the Bulli, this concept was the first to suggest the idea of a reborn Bus as an electric vehicle, and it generated a lot of excitement. It was on the small side, only two rows of seats, and only put out 113 horsepower. But enthusiasm for the concept was high enough that VW batted around the idea of sending it to production for several years. Today we can look at it as an example of just how far EVs have come in a short time, with the ID.Buzz being bigger, considerably more powerful, and even better looking.

Volkswagen BUDD-e Concept 2016


Had the Bulli concept never existed, it might not be really clear that 2016’s BUDD-e was intended to have anything at all to do with the original Type 2. While you can see the evolution of the design from the Bulli, and there is a color-contrast roof, the design definitely evolved away from the Type 2. The BUDD-e is still extremely important though, it was built on Volkwagen’s MED electric vehicle platform, and those mechanical underpinnings would be what carried the electric rebirth of the Type 2 forward.

Volkswagen ID.Buzz Concept 2017


First introduced as a concept in 2017, the ID.Buzz was a reworking of the BUDD-e and the MED platform to make it everything that had made the Type 2 so popular in the first place. The design maximizes interior space, allowing for all kinds of different configurations. There will even be cargo versions for the European market, just like there was with the original. The styling is very reminiscent of the Type 2, with the prominent VW badge on the front, the two-tone paint, and a number of other touches. It might look smaller than the original, but a long-wheelbase version will debut soon, and this will be the version sold in the US.

Volkswagen ID.Buzz

Following the evolution of the concept, we can see that the version that finally went to production is also the one that has the qualities that made the original so popular. A spacious and versatile interior, that will be even more spacious and versatile when it makes it to the US, with room for three rows of seats. Third-party companies are already coming out with kits to convert the ID.Buzz into a camper, and the possibilities for further creative use of ID.Buzz are exciting.