Volkswagen’s announcement of an all-new, all-electric remake of the much-loved Kombi camper van this week has set the internet on fire. We take a closer look at the next generation of the four-wheeled wanderlust machine that (still!) has everybody talking.
Since 1950, the iconic Volkswagen Kombi—otherwise known as the Bus, Transporter, Microbus or Camper—has stolen the hearts and minds of outdoor enthusiasts around the world.
Best known for helping the hippies and surfers of the 1960s chase the endless summer wherever it led, the van—which enjoyed a multitude of updates and revisions over the years—achieved cult-like status thanks to its charm, good looks (even gracing the covers of Bob Dylan and Beach Boys albums) and its durability.
And the legend didn’t die when a Brazilian factory produced the last Kombi back in 2013—fans and hobbyists in all corners of the globe have dedicated their lives to not only keeping these classic vehicles roadworthy, but to customizing them to the nines and turning them into the ultimate outdoor machines.
Even now, in 2017, the Kombi is arguably the unofficial mascot and catalyst for the popular #vanlife movement, which sees road warriors from around the world pack up their lives and hit the tarmac indefinitely. At time of writing, prices for well-kept and customized Kombis are between $20,000 – $95,000 USD with a fully-restored model even selling for an alleged record-breaking $202,000 AUD in Melbourne, Australia, ($160,000 USD) in 2015.
All this in mind, it could be considered risky for Volkswagen to try and relaunch the classic van. What if a dud offering ruined the romantic, sun-soaked legacy of the Kombi? But relaunch it will, with the Volkswagen ID Buzz—an electric, eco-friendly and technologically advanced version of the classic camper—set to take to the road in 2022.
Announced this week after Volkswagen received positive feedback for concepts of the car at trade shows in early 2017, the ID Buzz will bring the charm of the classic Kombi kicking and screaming into the modern world. “For me, the I.D. Buzz concept is the most beautiful and most exciting electric car in the world,” said Dr. Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management for the Volkswagen brand. An accompanying advert for the car claims that “The future is looking groovy.” Settle down, dad.
And what about the details? According to the press release, the ID Buzz will provide ample space for passengers or cargo, can easily seat eight people and will feature completely flexible, changeable seating. The electric battery pack will offer almost 300 miles of driving time and can be recharged up to 80 per cent in just 30 minutes at 150 kW. There’s even a front-opening trunk (like the VW Beetle), a full skylight roof, a fold-away steering wheel and a heads-up display that “integrates augmented reality” (whatever that means). All of the van’s controls will be on a large touchscreen which is said to offer intuitive, iPad-like ease of use and connectivity.
But while many corners of the internet are over the moon at the prospect of a new version of the Kombi, not everyone is so hopeful.
In an article for Outside Online titled ‘Why Volkswagen’s new electric Budd-e [sic] isn’t a true camper’, Chris Dixon, who’s owned five Volkswagen vans, writes: “While [ID Buzz] might be a game changer in the world of electric transportation, it’s a disappointment to VW lovers like me who hoped for a simple, functional, iconic people-mover that actually hearkened back to VW vans of the past.” Although he did concede that he thinks the van is “cute in an iMac-meets-Tron sort of way.”
Whether you’re a diehard Volkswagen Kombi enthusiast or a rank amateur, you’ll be able to judge the ID Buzz for yourself once 2022 rolls around. Until then, you can keep up with the latest news by checking the #TheBusIsBack hashtag on your social media service of choice.
The ID Buzz will join a range of other electric cars on offer from Volkswagen in the early 2020s.
Oliver is the Australia editor of Adventure.com. Originally from the UK, he's lived in Melbourne since 2011 and writes for a range of international travel and music publications.