Volkswagen’s Electric Hippie Van is Close to Being Approved, But There’s a Catch

If your life goals for the near future include recreating the Summer of Love, there’s some far-out news arriving from Volkswagen. Public reaction to the automaker’s electric I.D. Buzz concept proved positive enough to give executives confidence in European and American demand for the reborn Microbus.

Unfortunately for latter-day hippies and retirement-age flower children, their enthusiasm for this out-of-sight green machine won’t be enough for VW to start production. It seems that the model’s future hinges not on the Counter Culture Revolution, but the Cultural Revolution.

For VW to give the model a green light, the automaker must be confident in its global success. That means sparking interest not only in San Francisco, but also Beijing.

According to Autocar, the automaker needs to be sure of Chinese buy-in.

“The concept has been well-received in the US and Europe,” VW design chief Klaus Bischoff told the publication at the Geneva Motor Show, “but the missing link is China. From the business case point of view it’s quite an investment – it needs a global green light. In the meantime, it’s thumbs up.”

After 16 years of Microbus-inspired concepts that went nowhere, one hopes VW has concluded that this can’t go on indefinitely. An EV model built on the company’s dedicated electric architecture would allow for authentic retro proportions, while the green element seems tailor-made to tap into the brand goodwill of the 1960s. It seems the company knows this.

At the concept’s launch late last year, VW sales and marketing head Jurgen Stackmann stated, “I think this is the most realistic shot ever at the Microbus coming.”

Designers in Wolfsburg are already working on turning the I.D. Buzz into a production-ready vehicle, Bischoff told Autocar. The model is “more than a show car,” he claimed. After previous failed attempts to resurrect the Microbus, Bischoff implied that this is the last kick at the can.

“I’ve tried quite a bit to bring this [the Microbus] to life,” he said. “This is the final temptation.”

If VW does decide to go ahead with the model, it would appear alongside an electric compact car and a host of other models at the start of the next decade. VW claims 270 miles of range and all-wheel drive, making the I.D. Buzz a fairly practical people carrier.

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