The Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept has been unveiled at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, and it appears to take the form of a 21st-century Microbus, following up from the previous I.D. concept – the I.D. Buzz name is a a play on ‘Bus’, and the show car is replete with autonomous driving capabilities and an all-wheel-drive, fully electric drivetrain.

“The I.D. Buzz is a next-generation vehicle based on the new Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB), offering comfort and plenty of space,” said Dr. Frank Welsch, Volkswagen member of the board of management responsible for development. A pair of 201 hp electric motors power the I.D. Buzz, one on each axle for a total system output of 369 hp. A 111 kWh battery provides a range of 600 km on the NEDC cycle.

The electric concept’s battery can be charged via a Combined Charging System or through an inductive charging interface, which Volkswagen says can reach 80% charge in 30 minutes. The flexibility of the MEB platform means that the I.D. Buzz can also be configured in a rear-wheel-drive setup with 268 hp from a smaller, 83 kWh battery, depending on its intended usage.

Autonomous driving capabilities feature heavily on the I.D. Buzz, and VW calls it “the world’s first fully autonomous multi-purpose vehicle.” The driver can cede control of the vehicle with a light push on the steering wheel, which makes it retract and merge into the instrument panel, signalling the vehicle’s fully autonomous, “I.D. Pilot” mode. This is made possible by a newly developed steering column, which allows the steering wheel to be de-coupled from the steering gear in this mode.

In autonomous mode, the I.D. Buzz’s interior lighting switches from white to a more relaxed mood lighting, which in this mode, is also extended to the rear seating area. When the driver hands over control to the systems, the driver’s seat can be rotated 180 degrees to face the passengers; a touch of the steering wheel, brake, or accelerator pedal will hand control of the vehicle back to the driver.

The electronics suite which enable the concept car’s autonomous driving include laser sensors, ultrasonic sensors, radar sensors, along with side view cameras and a front view camera. Cloud computing enables the continual acquiring of traffic data, which is compared with the vehicle’s own data.

With the incorporated Volkswagen User-ID, the I.D. Buzz stores individual profile settings for multiple users, for seat and air-conditioning settings, sound system, radio station and music settings, navigation configurations, ambient lighting and contact list details.

Access to the I.D. Buzz is via a smartphone app as a form of digital key, which works together with the Volkswagen User-ID setup to identify its users, and to set up his or her personalised in-car settings. With the User-ID and the smartphone app, infotainment and navigation can be controlled via a mobile device, while the vehicle’s route is displayed on the onboard tablet.

The Volkswagen brand aims to start its EV product thrust in three years’ time, according to Dr. Herbert Diess, chairman of the board of management for Volkswagen.

“The Volkswagen brand’s big electric offensive begins in the year 2020 with a completely new vehicle architecture. That is when we will be launching an entirely new generation of fully connected, all-electric vehicles to the market. By 2025 we want to be selling one million of these vehicles annually. We are making electric mobility the new trademark of Volkswagen,” he said.

The I.D. Buzz concept is another of Volkswagen’s steps in the direction of Strategy 2025, which plots the company on a course to launch 30 new, fully electric vehicles by 2025.