Opinion: VW ID Buzz Cargo could be a better throwback than the Beetle
As Volkswagen’s first mass-produced car finally approaches the end of the line, the company is reviving its second
The reason VW decided to announce its demise so far ahead of time is because sales will now tick up as the clock counts down. Telling potential customers that a unique car is dying and won’t be replaced is a sure way of stoking demand. And US sales of the Mexican-built model were down to just 15,000 units last year.
The Beetle and its van sister have a huge place in California’s automotive heritage. The two vehicles were an integral part of the hippy era and Beetle ownership on the West Coast is a bit like Mini ownership for middle-aged Brits. Everyone either owned one or spent a lot of time travelling in one.
VW’s US advertising for the Beetle is now also part of America’s media legend. Selling a small, underpowered European oddity that dated from before World War II in a country that thrived on huge Detroit metal powered by huge Detroit engines required – and received – enormous originality.
While the final-edition model of the current Beetle sat quietly in the corner of the VW stand, the company had two absolute corkers of the original VW models at the LA show. A 1964 black Beetle with a magnificent period roof rack and a VW van finished in the livery of Telefunken, a historic German TV and radio manufacturer.
On the lower floor of the exhibition centre enthusiasts also turned up with a wide range, including one very early Beetle I spotted on the way into the exhibition. (These machines have an exceptional design purity that has been too long ignored by the cognoscenti.)
But while the Beetle is on a one-way trip down memory lane, VW showed another version of its electric ID Buzz Cargo concept, which is based on the new MEB battery-electric platform, alongside the original.
Reviving the retro wagon makes sense because the MEB platform has a flat floor and is rear-engined, like the original. The ID Buzz also makes more sense than the recent reinventions of the Beetle because, where the car had to be heavily compromised in terms of space and packaging to get the retro looks, a reborn van can be true to the original while remaining exceptionally practical.
With internet shopping on an unstoppable rise, what self-respecting enviro-friendly Californian business could pass up on a zero-emission retro electric urban delivery van that sees no compromise in its function? VW’s new van may yet prove to a be a far more successful reinvention of VW’s original two product lines than the Beetle could ever hope to have been.
Source: Autocar Online