Volkswagen’s BEV ‘Camper’ Targets California Dreamers

Volkswagen’s global debut of its all-electric ID.Buzz may have been in Germany but it was pitched squarely at the lucrative US market the automaker sees as its chief target.

For while this launch was for the shorter wheelbase European specification model, it clearly pointed the way the automaker views its marketing strategy focused on the emotional link the US has with its VW Camper forebears. Much time and, in the shape of the on stage attendance of Hollywood heart-throb Ewan McGregor, not a little money is being spent on marketing this vehicle now being billed as the future camper van for both practical and leisure purposes.

If Volkswagen was, on the ear-splitting standards of car launches these days, going light on the music content for a new vehicle launch, it went heavy on the tunes being played on the heartstrings with flashbacks to McGregor’s personal relationship with the brand from childhood. His first car at the age of 16 was a Beetle and now he owns a comprehensive collection of classic models including one T1 he has had converted to an electric powertrain.

He said: “I have been a Volkswagen enthusiast pretty much all of my life.” Pointing to a picture of himself with that car he said: “This was the car that gave me freedom when I was 16. I have four Beetles now and it’s just a love I never got over.”

Talking about his current collection including two T1s, he added: “The ’54 Oval is fully electric now, there’s batteries in the front where the petrol tank used to be and in the parcel shelf behind the rear seat. And there’s my T1 in the background, my single cab – I use it around my place a lot to move things. I’ve moved house in it and moved all my furniture in it and I just use it all the time. I love it!”

In truth, the launch told us very little beyond that revealed during several European first-drives by journalists last month. We are told the first two rear-wheel drive versions will have a powertrain featuring a 82 kWh battery pack powering a 198bhp electric motor with claimed maximum torque of 229lb-ft. Top speed will be limited to 90mph but, tellingly, among the myriad of details about dimensions and its turning circle that matches that of a VW Golf/Rabbit, there is a noticeable lack of claimed range.
However, we were told the vehicle’s connectivity with over-the-air updates will see Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities added after on-road trials on the roads of Hamburg have been successfully completed by 2025. In the meantime, the driver assist systems suite will see the European five-seater ID. Buzz models are equipped with standard Front Assist, Lane Assist, and Dynamic Road Sign Display. Optional systems will include Adaptive Cruise Control, Side Assist, Travel Assist, Emergency Assist, Park Assist, Light Assist and Area View.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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