VW Plans Self-Driving Microbus

The ID.Buzz is set for production, with later editions providing some unique features.

In 2017, Volkswagen came to the Detroit auto show with a concept version of its Type 2 — an electrified upgrade of the Microbus made famous as an icon of 1960s counterculture.

VW, of course, had teased numerous concepts of its minibus over the years with little to show for it on highways. This one, however, stuck: the ID.Buzz is slated to be launched in Europe next year and head to the U.S. in 2023. But as plans for that rollout continue, VW says it has something even more interesting cooking for subsequent model years.

Volkswagen announced it has developed a version of the ID.Buzz with Argo AI, the U.S.-based autonomous driving tech firm backed by both VW and Ford. Tests of that vehicle are slated to begin in Germany this summer in hopes of debuting an electric bus that can — sort of — drive itself in 2025.

The van, CNBC reports, would feature Level 4 autonomy, which means it would be fully self-driving in specific areas and conditions. Although far short of full Level 5 autonomy, it would still represent a significant step up from the Level 2 of Tesla’s Autopilot or GM’s Super Cruise.

The ID.Buzz is Argo’s first test vehicle from VW, but the company is already testing self-driving systems in Ford vehicles in select U.S. cities. The company recently unveiled a proprietary lidar system that it says can see objects from nearly a quarter-mile away.

The debut ID.Buzz will offer ranges that span from 200 miles per charge at the low end of battery capacity all the way up to 340 miles per charge. Reports suggested it could start around $40,000; no word on what a self-driving feature could add to that price.

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