Spy video of VW ID. Buzz emerges, and we don’t want to believe it’s this ugly

CarSpyMedia has released video of the upcoming electric ID Buzz during a braking test in the Alps.

We’ve seen a few spy photos recently, but this is the first video we’ve seen yet of the van driving on public roads. And, just a warning: it looks nothing like the cute throwback prototype that so many of us loved when we first saw it.

The prototype looks, well, like a van. It’s big; it’s boxy; it’s white. It’s got a mildly aggressive/modern-looking grille. The grille seems functional rather than fake. It isn’t just plastic — there are some holes in it to allow air through, which is different from many electric vehicles.

It still has a little visible camouflage, but the camouflage seems to only cover the badging. Generally, automakers will put patterned camouflage on non-finalized cars to indicate that they are not production ready, but we don’t see any of that here. The van mostly drives slowly downhill throughout the four-minute video. Have a look over on CarSpyMedia’s youtube channel:

On the back, a sign says “bremsentest,” which is German for “braking test.” We imagine this is a regenerative braking test, as it can take a fair amount of effort to tune regenerative braking to feel satisfying, especially with the variables of different downhill inclines and varied levels of load in the vehicle, especially a cargo van.

Speaking of which: The most notable feature is the lack of passenger windows.This van does have one side door on the passenger side, but no side windows. Passenger vans should have windows on the sides for passengers, whereas cargo vans often do not. We’ve seen various spy shots of this prototype but haven’t seen any photos of a van with windows.

So, when compared to the cute retro concept vehicle, which was marketed as a camper van for families, it really doesn’t look anything alike.

Looking in through the front and rear windows, we think we don’t see any rear passenger seats, and there’s a large box of some sort in the middle of the vehicle.

Given all of this we suspect that this is just the ID Buzz Cargo version that keeps showing up in these spy photos and videos and that a passenger version will come later. The Buzz Cargo concept was used as a support vehicle for VW’s Pike’s Peak record run with its custom-built electric ID R.

But even the Cargo concept had a retro look, quite different from the spy photos and video we’re seeing today:

To be fair, cargo vans are not typically picked for their looks. So perhaps the passenger version will look more like the concept and retain the airy, beachy, camper-y feel that VW was obviously trying to target with that concept.

We still haven’t seen any photos of the passenger Buzz, nor do we have final specs on it. When VW first unveiled the concept, we were told it would have optional all-wheel drive, up to 369 horsepower, 0-60 in 5 seconds, top speed of 99mph, and up to a 111kWh battery for a range of around 270 miles. A lower configuration would be available with an 83kWh, 200-mile battery.

But those specs were announced four years ago, so anything could have changed since then. We haven’t gotten an official release date or spec list yet, and we don’t even know if a passenger version still exists, given that all we’ve seen is the Cargo version.

Electrek’s Take

I, personally, hate this.

I grew up with a VW Vanagon Westfalia camper, and my family went on camping trips all over the place in that van. We loved that van for all its quirks. It was one of the boxy ones — the later T3 model, not the iconic T1 model that the ID Buzz concept was a throwback to. So not quite the same as the classic camper, but it still had a lot of charm.

This thing we’re seeing spy photos of, though, is totally lacking in charm.

We were shown a cute concept vehicle, with great throwback looks, to a classic and iconic VW. People had been clamoring for an electric VW van for quite some time, and when the concept came out, everyone loved it.

Now, it’s been replaced with… whatever this is — a boring, anonymous, “modern”-looking van with no character whatsoever. It looks like every other van you’ve ever seen. I literally couldn’t pick this out of a lineup.

I hate it so much that I’ve seen a few spy photos of it charging, etc., in public but held off on posting about it in the hopes that there was something wrong. Maybe someone misidentified it, and it wasn’t actually the ID Buzz? Maybe it’s still heavily camouflaged with fake body panels? Just… any explanation at all that would indicate we were still going to get the awesome throwback concept that we’ve been shown and hinted at for so many years.

Voltswagen, please. You had another great idea that everyone seemed to like, and you ruined it again. Just give us the concept vehicle. Fine, you can make a few modifications, and you’ll have to. We expect that out of concept vehicles. But these changes you’ve made are massive and for the worse.

To be fair, I ran this around the Electrek newsroom and not everyone hated it as much as I did.

In a vacuum, the design would be fine – it’s a van, but it’s electric. Good. We need that.

But it’s just such a disappointment from what we could have had. VW set expectations high and then shattered them. Unless this is some sort of non-camouflaged camouflage job and the real thing is hiding in plain sight, there’s just nothing special about the van we see in this video.

We truly hope that there will still be an ID Buzz passenger version and that it will look more like the concept than this bland, anonymous white box. But even if it doesn’t, we still hope a lot of them get sold, and VW continues going away from gas. This will still be great for fleet managers. Just… not for people who like to see interesting cars.

What do you think about these spy shots? Let us know in the comments.

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Avatar for Jameson Dow Jameson Dow

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for electrek.co since 2016.

You can contact him at jamie@electrek.co