Most people pulling into the main parking lot next to Huntington Beach — a postcard-worthy stretch of white sand and Baywatch-esque scenes southeast of LA — come in search of steady swells, gentle weather, and the promise of year-round surfing. But three generations of the Richards family — are here for the Buzz — the unveiling of the long-anticipated, all-electric North American VW ID. Buzz that is. 

“Reid and I are very excited about this,” 65-year-old Randall Richards says as he sits back in a beach-blanket-lined camping chair next to his 37-year-old son, Reid. “If you notice the tag on my rearview mirror there, you’ll see it’s 001. Reid here is 002. We were the first two in. That’s pretty awesome.”

Father, son, and Reid’s twins, four-year-olds Rex and Evelyn, are kicking back in beach-blanket-lined camping chairs parked in front of their two vintage VW Westfalia’s. 

They all spent the night here awaiting the big reveal—the first in a line of some 300 other colorful, blast-from-the-past “original” VW busses. They’re all here to celebrate a milestone of yesterday-meets-tomorrow.

The Richards family wait to see the new VW ID Buzz

Clockwise from top left, Reid, Randall, Rex, and Evelyn Richards, three generations who camped out in their vintage VW’s to see the unveiling of the new VW ID. Buzz _credit: Reid Richards

Their excitement reminds me of earlier years of Apple’s smartphone releases when people lined up around several blocks and camped out overnight to be among the very first people in the world to own the newest iPhone. 

But it’s been more than 20 years since Volkswagen first promised a reincarnation of the first real #vanlife vehicle. Some purists are already poo-poo’ing the rounded edges — less counterculture than soccer mom — and the rumored $40-$50,000+ price tag is expected to rule out the humble masses. 

Not the Richards family, though. They love everything they’ve seen so far. “There’s still that sense of utility and freedom,” Reid says wistfully. “If you can’t get over a minivan and you can’t get the soccer mom out of your head, then that’s on you.”

“I don’t really see it as a minivan. It looks very solid, and it’s also much larger than I thought it was going to be, in a really positive way. It looks great. It’s still a bus. It’s awesome,” Randall adds. 

What it’s like behind the wheel of the new ID. Buzz

The author takes a rest after getting a first look at the VW ID. Buzz

The author takes a rest after getting a first look at the VW ID. Buzz in Huntington Beach_Credit Roddy Blelloch

I didn’t actually get to drive the new electrified ID. Buzz, let me just get that out of the way. If you’ve seen a reporter taking a spin in one, it’s the European version, which is slower, smaller, and a bit less flashy than the American-Spec VW ID. Buzz. 

The American version is nearly a foot longer than its European cousin, with three rows of seats. You can fold the back two rows down for extra cargo room or take the back row out completely. It’s just over 16 feet long, 6.5 feet wide, and 6.2 feet tall. It’s roomy enough for seven people — or fewer folks and more stuff. It’s not a camper, though my dog, husband, and I could sleep in it comfortably, and we expect to see people converting them the minute they hit the U.S. market. 

review the new VW ID. Buzz

ID. Buzz Rear View_Credit: Roddy Blelloch

People laugh at me when I start an auto review with its color, but in this case, everyone else does too. “What I love most about the ID. Buzz is the awesome color palette,” VW product manager Jeffery Lear says with a grin. (I feel so vindicated!) The head-turning colors with names like “Cabana Blue” and “Energetic Orange” are flower-power-bold throwbacks to the rigs’ colorful past, with a nod to its more futuristic new feel. 

The oversized VW logo is back and bigger than ever front and center too, but this one lights up with an LED line that runs all the way to both headlights. It still looks kind of like a happy face coming at you, only this time it’s more “smizing,” or even “smirking,” than just plain smiling. 

There are electric sliding windows that open back to front, rather than up and down, in the middle of both side-sliding doors. That’s fun to play around with too, but it’s when you get inside that you really start to feel like this bus might have been worth the wait. 


review of the ID. Buzz

Inside the VW ID. Buzz_Credit: James Lipman

When you slide in behind the retro-inspired wood-optic dash, two screens light up — the smaller 5.3-inch just beyond the steering wheel — and a larger 12.9-inch “infotainment” command center in the middle. 

 The larger screen is both touch and voice-activated and has all kinds of little next-gen magic tricks people like me appreciate the most, like automatically adjusting seat temperatures — even the passenger seats — or changing the 30-color option interior “mood-lighting,” along with all the music, apps, phone connectivity, and everything else you expect your cutting-edge new EV to do. 

The sunroof is also worth talking about. It takes up nearly the entire top of the car. “The panoramic glass sunroof is amazing,” agrees Lear. “But check this out, it has Electrochromic tinting, so one swipe of your finger instantly dims the roof,” he explains. 

You can automatically change the shade degree of the sunroof tint three different ways, which is very cool. 

Another great touch is the 12-way power driver and passenger seats with dual armrests, ventilation, massage, and memory functions. The front and second-row seats are also heated, not just the driver and front passenger seat, and there are eight USB-C ports throughout the bus so that everyone can stay charged up. 

VW has not released the price, battery range, or any of those specs people ask me about the most. The only hint they gave me was, “it’s a bigger car than the ID.4, so if you know what the ID.4 tops out at (around $51,000 for the Pro S plus trim model) it will be a little more than that.”

As for range? “I will say that it will start with a ‘two,’ but I can’t say more than that,” Lear told me. 

With a beefy 91 kWh battery, it should be able to exceed the Euro version’s 260 miles on a full charge, with a 282-horsepower electric motor in the rear adding plenty of get-up-and-go. The new ID. Buzz will also be available with all-wheel drive and 330-total horsepower coming from one electric motor in the front and another in the back. 

It’s not your father’s VW Bus

review of new VW ID Buzz

A vintage VW bus back to back with the new VW ID. Buzz_Credit: James Lipman

I get excited about a lot of new tech gadgets — and our vehicles are really the biggest gadget we own. That said, yes, absolutely, I would love to buy a Cabana Blue VW ID. Buzz when it rolls off the lots next year. But I likely won’t because of the price (unless I win the lottery) and the fact that I live on an island in the Pacific Northwest, and there’s a serious shortage of fast-charging options here.  

Sure, I’ll pony up for a fast charger at home someday, but this VW Microbus screams “road trip,” and we’re just not quite there yet. (My brother-in-law just did his first Raleigh to Washington D.C. trip in his new Mustang EV and said he was nervous the whole entire time.) 

 Proponents of EVs are quick to point out that there are plenty of places to get a quick and full charge, but they often use examples in and around major metropolitan cities. The rest of us are dealing with “charger insecurity.” Hopefully, that’s changing, but I’m not taking off for Montana or the middle-of-nowhere-Utah in an EV — not one I could afford anyway — yet. (Colleagues of ours have driven the $138,000 EV that can go 1,000 miles on a single charge. Again, that’s not realistic for most of us.)

Will the ID. Buzz catch on in the United States?

Review of VW ID Buzz

The VW ID. Buzz chilling on a beach in Southern, CA_Credit: James Lipman

 Still, I don’t think VW will have any trouble selling these out in the United States. 

“The vibe of this vehicle is cool, laid back, relaxed, nothing but smiles,” Lear says when I ask him who he “sees” driving these around next year. “There’s definitely going to be those cool people, like the people out here surfing. But it will also be the coolest family on the block. When an ID rolls up, you’ll be like, ‘I need to get to know these people, they’re going to be awesome.’” 

The Richards family is about to fit that description. Both father and son have already put down $200 deposits on the 2025 ID. Buzz, expected to hit the streets in the United States around this time next year. For them, it’s as much about the culture as the actual car.  

“We’re a very close family,” Randall says as he waves a hand toward his son, then sweeps it out across the entire lot. “We’re from all walks of life here. You have those who are doing everything they can to scrape up enough to get a [vintage VW Bus] — to the guys with the most money wins because theirs are the prettiest and the nicest and the awesomest. You can spend $15,000 or $250,000 for the same device. It doesn’t matter. We’re all in.”