The Evolution of the Volkswagen Bus with Timeline & Photos
Early Days – The Type 2
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.