To talk about the most current auto news, we first have to take a brief look back. Scandal rocked the automotive industry in 2015 when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered the giant German car company Volkswagen had been using special software to falsify results on the emissions tests of their diesel engine vehicles. It was revealed that the software was somehow designed to detect when the vehicle was undergoing tests as opposed to standard use on the road, altering how the car performed under these conditions and giving false results. It was a huge blow to a Goliath that sent ripples through the car industry, even putting other carmakers on the defense. With possible litigation and fines looming from the US and other major countries affected by the scandal, the future of the once-beloved car manufacturer looked bleak.
Flash forward to 2019. Volkswagen has released a new commercial acknowledging and taking full responsibility for the fiasco while offering an apology in the shape of a new future for the company: electric cars. Specifically, their upcoming all-electric Microbus. The move isn’t exactly groundbreaking as many other manufacturers have already produced their own all-electric vehicles with Tesla leading the charge into an industry that leaves gas behind. VW’s lateness could likely be attributed to the fallout of the scandal itself. Despite production not beginning until 2022, Volkswagen has given us a glimpse into the concepts they’re currently working on. Each has an estimated range over 250 miles off of a single charge.
One way to escape a bad situation is to revisit the brightest parts of your past. This seems to be the idea behind VW’s ID. BUZZ concept, the all-electric Microbus. Talk about a time machine. The BUZZ is the ultimate collision of past and present. While a bit more conservative in size and sleeker than its Woodstock era parent, the resemblance is unmistakable. The concept marketing shows pictures of the BUZZ with surfboards alongside beaches and palm trees, very much intending to fill the gap left by its “flower-power” elder.
There’s a big emphasis on light with the BUZZ. The ad itself juxtaposes the brightly colored and illuminated concept vehicle against a dark background as Simon and Garfunkel’s classic Sounds of Silence plays in the background. Like the original, windows line the entire top of the vehicle, letting in as much sun as possible. Each feature on the front of the car shines, from the squinty headlights to the oversized VW logo nose and a smirk of LEDs on the front bumper. The interior looks like it was designed with the Jetson’s living room in mind. The back seats can be manipulated to face each other with a center console between them serving as a sort of coffee table/charging station. The front seat features a minimalist rectangular steering wheel and Tesla-style tablet display with what appears to be an actual iPad hooked in (perhaps just for the concept). While the other concept models tick the modern boxes that drivers want today, it’s clear the BUZZ serves more as a love letter for longtime VW fans and enthusiasts to come home, or at least know it’s okay to continue on with the brand.
The CROZZ is the SUV of the group. Styling seems to be along the lines of a more futuristic Tiguan. The headlights appear to feed from the illuminated logo itself via the faux hood line. There’s even a grill at the front despite there not being a traditional engine, though the styling makes it look closer to an air vent you’d find on the interior. Deep-set curves on the exterior give it a muscly appearance. The interior sports a similar style to the front driver’s seat with the rectangular wheel and tablet station, though the seats are much sleeker with the headrest jutting out from a post on the side as opposed to attaching from within the seat.
The beefed-up exterior makes you wonder how fast they really expect the CROZZ to go. Their model suggests enough horsepower to get the electric crossover to have an anticipated 110 mph track speed. Who else would bring up track speed in an SUV but Volkswagen? Burning that kind of rubber could really deplete your battery, but no fear. VW expects the battery to be able to get back to eighty-percent within a half-hour charge. Still a bit longer than your average trip to the gas station, but very good in the growing field of rechargeable vehicles. A field that the CROZZ may join ahead of its other battery-powered siblings as VW is aiming to have this model available by the end of 2020.
The VIZZION is the sedan style vehicle of the ID all-electric line VW is conceptualizing, but this one goes a bit further than the rest. The VIZZION concept suggests it will be the first Volkswagen to be fully autonomous, complete with your own “digital chauffeur.” Voice and gesture control are the main features, while the digital chauffeur can do things like adjust seats and climate zones based on who it recognizes as they enter the vehicle. The only controls visible on the concept images are a round dial with two illuminated buttons on the armrest in the front seat.
There’s little doubt as to where this car draws inspiration from as the modeling looks very similar to Tesla’s Model 3. The body work, while sleek, is almost seamless complete with a lack of door handles. Though these being mostly concept images may play into a seemingly stark to minimalist design, it does appear that these vehicles will contain only as much as you need to get from one place to another comfortably and with as little effort as possible. Just to outdo it’s brethren further, the VIZZION is expected to get 400 miles per charge.
Finally, we arrive at the all-electric hatchback simply labeled the ID. The body is a direct descendant of the beloved Golf or GTI, but with the same near seamless and illuminated features of the new class it’s coming up with. While shown with four doors, room in the back is very limited. They even demonstrate that the small rear seats can fold up and away for added (and much needed) storage space. Though, buyers looking for a rechargeable hot hatch may not be so worried about cargo area.
This seems like the most incomplete of the series so far, with concept images in a much more raw state than the rest. They do plan on including a full-auto drive mode complete with a retractable steering wheel. Surprisingly, the ID is expected to get about 30 miles per charge less than its counterpart the VIZZION at 370, though it’s still very impressive. The concept also shows a fully translucent roof, furthering the theme of “light” in this new series as it’ll allow you to soak in quite a few rays of sunlight.
Volkswagen had built itself up as one of the most iconic carmakers in the world up until the time of the emissions scandal. Beetles and VW Vans were some of the most beloved vehicles of all time, often becoming symbols of peace and the vehicle of choice for those who valued nature and free living. It’s clear with their plans of an electric future that they hope to be that carmaker again, to bring light out of their own darkness.