This video attracted my attention yesterday. It’s pretty hard to ignore.
It’s the latest VW Microbus Concept called the ‘ID Buzz’, which is a weird name but since it’s a concept will probably change later along with any other technical details they might wish to add or remove.
Car manufacturers launch concept vehicles to the press to test the public’s reaction. I’m fairly sure this caught the attention of a lot of enthusiasts. It’s been written about enthusiastically at Techcrunch and at Telegraph.co.uk, you can check those links for better pics.
There’s also a YouTube video here, ftg. a German reporter wrestling with English, so just turn the volume on down like I did.
So What Do I Think?
What throws me off with it is that it’s so far apart from what one expected to get when you click the video. The sight of a VW Microbus (aka Transporter aka Combi in our part of the world), much like the Beetle evokes great emotion from several generations, ranging from passive car users to enthusiasts like myself and downright zealots.
The car is so loved a 1963 23 window version sold for as much as $198,000.00, an incredible amount considering you could have bought a similar one for P20,000.00 when I was in high school. Back then there were so many they couldn’t give them away.
They are loved because of their simplicity and downright elementary level engineering. You can drop the engine by removing three bolts, you can take off the sliding door by yourself requiring zero tools. Yet they are reliable and were used and abused by owners for many years.
But when you see the ID Buzz, they throw words such as ‘fully autonomous mode’, ‘ultrasound sensors’, ‘radar scanners’, and (gasp) an electric engine, albeit one that can go 600kms.
This completely alienates at first, and that’s what I felt. It has cameras for rear view mirrors – does that really improve on a simple mirror? You can tell it your hungry, and it will point you to restaurant options you may like, which means it has access to activities you’ve been doing in the past – do I really want to share that information with my car? All sorts of red flags pop up in my head.
After those initial thoughts however, I settle down and realize well, yeah, that’s the future for you. I’m sure there were critics such as I in the ’60s when this was launched, and there will always be for every car model that comes out especially one that evokes as much sentiment as this.
Alternative energy is the way to go. Autonomous driving is going to happen (it already is), whether I like it or not (I don’t) and some people actually look forward to that (I can’t understand them either).
I realize the one thing that will make this car a success is the same thing that made the 60’s buses a hit, and the same thing that made me click and watch that video in the first place:
It’s all about the looks
When I was watching the German reporter talk about the bus I turned off the sound not just because of his rambling, but also because I really wasn’t interested in the technical aspects of it, which you can find in a modern Tesla anyway.
I just wanted to look at it and investigate any emotions I felt while doing so. I wanted to see myself in the car driving it, maintaining it, keeping it clean, going around the town or taking long trips on it. I wanted to see if I would want it in my life.
And honestly, that’s more than enough cue for VW to give it a go ahead. I think it’ll work.
Not that VW would actually make it though
On a final note it’s important to say that this is one of many bus concepts that VW has been making since the ’90s, and that all concepts since then never made it to production. We all still remember VW for the fuel emission scandal of 2015, and I imagine it needs to come up with a hit more than ever now. This may be it, and I think it is, but whether anything will actually come of it is anyone’s guess. And if I were a betting man I’d say probably not.