LA Auto Show 2018: Volkswagen gets commercial about electric drive

What does this commercial vehicle tell us about Volkswagen’s plans for EVs?

LOS ANGELES, USA — Is Volkswagen super late to the electric vehicle party? The brand only intends to start selling its first all-electric car in the States only in 2020, by which time other German carmakers will have dozens of battery-powered cars on sale between them.

Yet, it’s obvious that VW is thinking out of the box about electric vehicles (EVs) — even if it showed a particularly boxy one at LA.

The I.D. Buzz Cargo is a concept commercial vehicle under serious consideration by VW. It’s a panel van with a range of 320km to 550km, depending on battery size, with a 201hp motor driving the rear wheels. A front motor can be added to turn it into all-wheel drive vehicle.  

Volkswagen says the I.D. Buzz Cargo would be ideal as a delivery vehicle. 11.7 billion parcels were hauled around the USA last year, said Scott Keogh, the head of VW Group in America. Delivery vans are “the part that makes online shopping truly work,” he said.

Because delivery vans are driven in conditions that make engines consume fuel heavily — constant start-stop traffic and short journey distances — Mr Keogh said electric drive for such vehicles would have an outsized impact on reducing pollution. “We clearly see the business case for electric delivery vehicles growing stronger every day,” he said.

Here’s one they did earlier. Lovely to look at, but not quite so clean…

Mr Keogh also said pointedly that VW is working on affordable electric vehicles — many battery-powered cars so far have come from luxury labels. The group plans to invest US$38 billion in developing EVs of all kinds. “No company is better positioned to brings EVs to the millions, not just the millionaires” he said.

Perhaps the VW I.D. Buzz Cargo is a symbol of that thinking.


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Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.