In the not-too-distant-future, Volkswagen is going to unleash a new-age Transporter on Americans from sea to shining sea. The threat has been made several times over the decades, but the concept cars that have hinted at this have never panned out. This time it’s different, and maybe it took the world of EV to make it happen. To get a preview of the van Volkswagen has in store for us, all we have to do is go to Europe and see what’s going on with the ID. Buzz.
We already have an ID. in the States called the ID.4. This SUV is sized like a Taos but is purely an EV. The ID. Buzz is the vehicle that will carry Volkswagen’s electrification efforts further in America and, possibly, may be as big a hit as the New Beetle was (note: the Beetle hasn’t been produced since 2019). Production of the ID. Buzz began in June 2022, and we can expect to get ours in approximately a year.
“In the ID. Buzz, iconic design meets innovative technology, and this is reflected in new convenience and assistance systems. We are taking the next step forward on the way to highly automated driving with the use of swarm data in the latest Travel Assist,” explains Kai Grünitz, Member of the Volkswagen Brand Board of Management responsible for Development. “This is in line with Volkswagen’s commitment to offer premium technology and innovations in as many models as possible.”
While you ogle at the ID. Buzz pictures and get mad Volkswagen is making you wait approximately a year to buy, allow us to give you the skinny on one of the features that will save your life if you’re prone to watching TikTok on the road: Travel Assist. An optional feature for Euro-spec ID. Buzzes, Travel Assist helps keep your vehicle in lane and maintain space with the vehicle in front. An adaptive lane guidance system even can adapt to your driving style to help keep the vehicle leaning to left or right (instead of the middle) if needed. Predictive cruise control and cornering assist are also part of the package, which means vehicle speed can be adapted to courses along the road like bends and turns.
Swarm data is key to the upgrade in sensor technology. It’s an anonymized system that collects automated information from other Volkswagen models for navigation data. Think of it as crowd-sourcing for quasi-automated driving and maybe it’ll make some sense, as information and data from each car’s travels is collected and sent to a cloud up in the blue sky (well, cybersky), with that data being sent to Volkswagen vehicles that are traveling along respective routes.
When driving on roads at speeds greater than 55 mph, Travel Assist with swarm data can support lane changes with the sensors determining the surrounding area to be free from objects. The driver’s steering wheel must detect the driver’s hands in order to complete the procedure, with the driver able to intervene at any time. And get this: the procedure can only be initiated when the turn signal is activated. (Bimmer drivers are likely having a conniption at this very moment.)
Park Assist Plus is another tech highlight. It may sound like it’s for Lexus folks who can’t parallel park, but this driver assistance system can be taught five different marking maneuvers, which comes in handy for carports and tight garage spaces, as well as your typical parallel parking job (though we dare to say that if you can’t parallel park, you shouldn’t have a license). All that’s needed is to park the vehicle once and then “save” the parking procedure; afterwards, the ID. Buzz can repeat the learned parking maneuver on its own the next time you need to park as long as you monitor the situation like any good driver should. “The assistance system parks the ID. Buzz with the aid of the sensors that monitor the surroundings – it steers, accelerates, brakes and changes gear,” says Volkswagen.
Volkswagen has a portfolio of other driver assistance systems to make up for your distracted existence. Here’s a few: swerve support, oncoming vehicle braking when turning, Driver Alert System, Autonomous Emergency Braking Front Assist with Pedestrian and Cyclist Monitoring, lane keeping system Lane Assist, Dynamic Road Sign Display, Car2X traffic hazard alert function, Adaptive Cruise Control ACC stop & go, anti-theft alarm system with interior monitoring, Keyless Advanced locking and starting system, Park Assist Plus, Area View and the lane change system Side Assist.
That comes off as an alphabet soup of sorts but, then, so does ID. Buzz.