While the passenger version of the Volkswagen ID.Buzz has garnered most of the attention so far, VW's stylish electric Microbus revival is also offered as a panel van in Europe. The ID.Buzz Cargo features the same cute design with more than a few practical touches thrown in for the commercial buyers this model is targeting. It hasn't been earmarked for the U.S. yet, but we had the chance to drive one in Germany.
The main exterior difference between the cargo version and the passenger one is that it doesn't have side windows, but the slab-sided retro shape and its many interesting details remain unmistakably Microbus-inspired. While commercial fleets and small businesses are likely slapping on their own liveries, the ID.Buzz Cargo is still offered in a few fun exterior colors, including the blue-and-white paint scheme pictured here. Eighteen-inch steel wheels with hubcaps are standard, and flashier-looking 19- and 20-inch wheel options are available.
As you'd expect for a work vehicle, the cargo van's interior is far more spartan than that of the standard Buzz. The utilitarian front passenger compartment features lots of hard black plastic and durable-looking cloth upholstery. The raised seating position and large front windows make for great visibility, and the small digital gauge display is clear and simple. Annoyingly, the cargo version has the same convoluted infotainment system and touch-sensitive sliders that are propagating across VW's lineup.
Mechanically, the cargo version is identical to the passenger van, as both use VW's MEB platform also found under the ID.4. The ID.Buzz Cargo is currently offered in one wheelbase length and in a single powertrain configuration with a rear-mounted 201-hp electric motor and a 77.0-kWh battery pack. (The U.S. will be getting a long-wheelbase, three-row passenger van with a more powerful optional dual-motor setup and a larger battery, but VW said it isn't planning a LWB version of the cargo van.) It ain't quick, with a claimed 62-mph time of 10.2 seconds. That said, our rear-drive ID.4 tester beat its German estimates by nearly a second, so the Buzz Cargo might see the mid-nines. Either way, the electric motor is torquey enough to make the Buzz feel responsive around town.
Size-wise, the ID.Buzz fits in between the short- and long-wheelbase versions of the Ford Transit Connect that was recently discontinued for the U.S. market. The Buzz is highly maneuverable, with a tight turning radius, and it drives just like a typical compact crossover. Body motions are well controlled, the steering is accurate, and the ride quality is good. We drove the Buzz without anything in the back, and it avoids the bouncy feel that many other unladen vans have, likely due to the heavy battery pack mounted underneath the floor.
The ID.Buzz Cargo can fit 138 cubic feet of stuff in the cargo area, and VW brags that the space is optimized to accommodate a European-standard pallet either longitudinally or transversely. There's also a clever pass-through space under the front passenger seat that can fit longer copper pipes commonly used for plumbing, as well as an underfloor compartment meant to hold wires and cables. Its payload capacity of 1429 pounds is somewhat low for a van this size, and that's due to the weight of the battery pack—the claimed curb weight is a hefty 5185 pounds. VW also claims a towing capacity of 2204 pounds.
Of course, as we found in our test of electric pickups, towing and hauling with an EV will drastically cut into range. Unladen, the ID.Buzz Cargo has an estimated driving range of up to 264 miles, but that's on the optimistic WLTP scale. That's fine for urban use in smaller European cities, but it likely wouldn't cut it in the U.S.
A spokesperson for VW Commercial Vehicles told C/D that the company has not ruled out bringing the cargo version of the ID.Buzz to the U.S. but said it would have to produce the van in the U.S. to avoid the chicken tax. Given that many compact cargo vans recently exited the U.S. market, the business case depends on your perspective: This is either a sign that there's not much of a market left for this type of vehicle, or it's an opening for VW to fill with a cute and fun alternative. We think the ID.Buzz Cargo is charming enough that it could find an audience. Anyone ready to open a flower shop with a matching flower-power electric van?
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