Volkswagen revives the beach buggy
Did anybody say an EV future would be boring? It won’t be as the company begins production of the eco-friendly ID Buggy
Volkswagen’s idea of an EV future isn’t bleak. It’s the ID Buggy, and we love it. It’s an eco-friendly, guilt-free interpretation of the classic 1960s and 1970s Manx Buggy.
And with enough support Volkswagen could even put it into production. It’s the company’s fifth electric concept car, following the ID hatch, the ID Buzz van, the ID Crozz SUV and the ID Vizzion limousine. The first of these into production will be the ID hatch in 2020.
And in a major signal of how Volkswagen expects its ID Buggy to be used, it will be the only one of its electric cars without any kind of driver-assistance systems.
Volkswagen says the rear-drive Buggy will hit 100km/h in 7.2 seconds and it’s been limited to 160km/h because, really, what more do you need in the dunes?
Sitting on the upcoming MEB (Module Electric Matrix) architecture, the two-seat ID Buggy sticks its 62kWh lithium-ion battery in the floor and attaches it to a 150kW electric motor.
Electric cars and sand were made for each other, Volkswagen insists, because the ID Buggy’s rear-mounted motor will punch out up to 310Nm of torque right from a standstill. And it does all of that with just a single gear.
There is also a back-up plan if widespread public opinion convinces Volkswagen that the ID Buggy doesn’t have enough urgency. The company admits it’s already designed the bodywork to fit a second electric motor on the front axle, making it even more effective in the sand or for general off-road work.
The ID Buggy has an EV range of just 250km, but Volkswagen insists there are good reasons for this. First, a smaller range translates to a lighter (and considerably cheaper) battery pack that’s easier to package. Second, the ID Buggy’s nature is as a weekend toy and a street cruiser, rather than a big-range commuter car.
VW has created a mobile quick-charging station, with 360kWh of charging capacity, that can either be permanently installed or moved around on demand for things like festivals or club weekends at the beach.
Running on 18-inch Goodrich All Terrain TA tyres, the ID Buggy will be lifted to deliver 240mm of ground clearance. Unlike certain California-built EV SUVs, Volkswagen actively wants the ID Buggy to be driven off road.
And in a huge leap for an organisation as tautly controlled as Volkswagen, its MEB-based architecture and powertrain will even be opened up to outside low-volume body shops.
“As in the past, Volkswagen is opening up to external producers with the ID Buggy concept,” Volkswagen said. “The offer: On this basis you can build the emission-free dune buggy for a new era, no matter whether for Santa Barbara in California, the Yalong Bay in China or St Peter-Ording in Germany.
“In general, the MEB also has the potential to become the new technical basis for e-mobility for many automobile manufacturers.”
This shouldn’t be a shock, with Volkswagen announcing earlier this year that it would make the MEB architecture available for competitors to use (with Ford presumably one of the first) to help push up the economies of scale.
“The purist design of the ID Buggy is the modern, retro-free interpretation of an icon,” said Volkswagen’s design boss Klaus Bischoff. “Unmistakably a buggy. And yet completely reconceived,” he claimed.
Light is the new chrome for Volkswagen, with the round headlights echoing a signature of older Beetles, while the Buggy recharges via a socket hidden beneath the rear logo.
The interior is minimalistic, with a squashed-hexagon steering wheel and very few buttons. Even the traditional gear lever has been squeezed onto the steering wheel, with a small wheel on the right spoke of the wheel needing to be scrolled and clicked to change gear.
The accelerator pedal is highlighted by a consumer electronics-style “Start” triangle, while the brake pedal has a traditional “Stop” sign on it.
There is a targa bar for rollover protection, while the windscreen frame is reinforced for the same reason.
Volkswagen says the car will enter series production next year.