Like most individuals, I’m intrigued by the concept of electrical automobiles however not but satisfied it’s time to make the leap. I can title each Tesla mannequin, just a few pickups from Ford and Rivian, and that’s about it. However when Volkswagen introduced the manufacturing mannequin of the all-electric ID Buzz, which started hitting European roads late final 12 months… effectively, out of the blue, I used to be very .
See, I’m the man who spent every week dwelling in a VW Transporter T5 “Ventje” final 12 months and as soon as rented a classic Kind 2 VW Microbus named “Fergus” for a summer season simply to wild camp round Scotland with my household. Typically, I abhor blatant makes an attempt to transform nostalgia into product or ticket gross sales, however VW had me hooked ever for the reason that ID Buzz was launched as a far-out idea. That’s till I realized the unthinkable: the ID Buzz would launch in passenger and cargo variants solely — no “California” campervan. For that, I’d have to attend till 2025 or longer. Ugh!
Then just a few months in the past, I found the aftermarket Ququq BusBox-4 tenting field. It converts both the ID Buzz passenger or cargo vans right into a two-person camper — and again — in simply minutes. It’s accessible proper now, and at €2,790 (about $3,000) prices a fraction of the premium the VW ID California will probably demand.
So, I made a decision to place the ID Buzz and Ququq to the check to reply two foremost questions: can immediately’s ID Buzz already perform as an electrical campervan, and may it help distant work for an prolonged time period?
With that in thoughts, I packed up my spouse and canine and commenced an almost 2,000-mile spherical journey trek throughout Europe from Amsterdam within the north to Milan within the south, on a loosely deliberate street journey that also required us to clock in at work every morning. We slept, labored, and ate (minus just a few lunches) completely from the ID Buzz for a interval of two weeks.
The expertise was an epiphany for me, a first-time EV driver and aspiring digital nomad, with many classes realized alongside the way in which. The age of e-vanlife is dawning, and our expertise with the ID Buzz is a preview of what’s to return.
To be clear, this isn’t a assessment of the VW ID Buzz electrical van — there are many locations you may get that from folks with rather more automotive expertise than I’ve. It is a assessment of the ID Buzz as an adaptable do-it-all campervan — one automobile that serves a wide range of wants. For that cause, my single favourite characteristic is an non-compulsory (€331) DC-to-AC inverter that locations a European commonplace 230V energy socket beneath the entrance passenger seat (extra on that later).
The ID Buzz is constructed upon the identical MEB platform as VW’s first electrical automotive, the ID.3, similar to the unique Kind 2 Microbus derived from the Kind 1 Beetle. So, in actuality, the ID Buzz is greater than only a low-cost nostalgia ploy — it’s following the identical evolutionary path as its extremely iconic and profitable predecessors. Figuring out that makes me really feel much less like a hapless sufferer of the sentimentality machine — or so I inform myself.
My assessment automobile is a totally loaded ID Buzz 1st Max Version passenger van with each choice attainable. It’s priced at nearly €80,000 (about $88,000), which incorporates roughly €14,000 of taxes right here within the Netherlands. For comparability, it’s nonetheless less expensive than a €113,990 base Tesla Mannequin X SUV within the Dutch market on the time of publication.
I’ll say this in abstract of the ID Buzz itself: everybody who drove it or noticed it beloved it. Folks had been so charmed by it that they might have interaction me with questions when parked at charging stations or pull up alongside whereas driving to flash thumbs-up and hang-loose gestures. It was smiles throughout, similar to the enjoyment we unfold when driving that pleasant outdated Kind 2 round Scotland. Hell, if you happen to take a look at the entrance finish of the ID Buzz good, even it appears to be smiling.
The ID Buzz’s low middle of gravity, non-compulsory 21-inch wheels, and rear-wheel drive mix for a surprisingly enjoyable drive. It additionally affords glorious visibility for a big automotive that really feels small, because of a windshield that drops down to obviously mark the entrance of the automotive and a bevy of sensors and cameras that warn you to close by objects. It additionally has a surprisingly tight turning radius which was very helpful when navigating slender Italian streets.
However I agree with reviewers who say the infotainment system is underpowered and convoluted with a mixture of interfaces that depart you questioning if a push, pull, or contact is the anticipated enter (stuff you’ll finally develop muscle reminiscence for). The button for the hazard lights, for instance, is contact delicate for some cause leading to three unintentional triggers.
(Not so free) Vary
I’m not a automotive man, however I do love an enormous rolling battery that may energy all my devices. So after I take a look at the ID Buzz, I see an enormous energy plant. However as massive because the VW ID Buzz is, the battery maxes out at simply 82kWh, of which solely 77kWh is usable. That’s not lots for its dimension, particularly when you think about that it’s the identical battery capability discovered contained in the smaller VW ID.4 and ID.5.
The battery capability was a priority for me — a first-time EV driver — given the situations I deliberate to drive in. See, EVs carry out optimally in hotter temps round 21C (70F) and at metropolis speeds the place regenerative braking can do its factor. My deliberate route was more likely to be chilly and quick alongside nice swaths of alpine freeway to cowl as a lot of the European charging community as attainable. I additionally deliberate to usually faucet into the VW’s high-voltage battery whereas working so as to hold the van heated and all my gear powered on. It wasn’t lengthy till I understood what vary anxiousness felt like, and I hadn’t even left the home!
Temperatures on my route ranged from -3C to about 17C (27F to 63F) throughout my two weeks of testing, however principally they hovered between 3C and 12C (37F to 53F) on common. That meant that the automotive wanted to be constantly heated, which lowered my total vary for the reason that ID Buzz lacks a warmth pump discovered on extra environment friendly EVs. And sure, I can affirm that the ID Buzz has a high pace of 150km/h (93mph), which I verified just a few occasions on the German autobahn.
Primarily based upon my utilization — which included siphoning about 5kWh per day to help dwelling and dealing from the ID Buzz — I used to be burning by a median of 23.9kWh each 100km (60 miles), or almost a 3rd of my battery capability, as reported by the ID Buzz’s infotainment system. That equates to 239Wh consumed per kilometer traveled or 2.6 miles per kWh, placing it a lot nearer to a Ford F-150 Lightning when it comes to effectivity than a Tesla Mannequin 3. My driving yielded a variety of round 322km (200 miles) per cost — effectively wanting the closely asterisked 423km (263 miles) WLTP vary that VW quotes in its European advertising however consistent with the 330km real-range information reported by EV Database.
However right here’s the factor: regardless of these somewhat underwhelming figures and being a complete EV novice, after only one or two days of journey, I by no means once more felt anxious about my vary. Largely as a result of we’re spoiled with selection of quick chargers right here in Europe, one thing I shortly found as I meandered my means by the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, and Italy.
I discovered Europe’s community of ultra-fast DC chargers (300kW and better) provided by firms like FastNed, Shell, Ionity, GoFast, and sure — Tesla — to be surprisingly strong. They had been plentiful, positioned conveniently subsequent to meals, retailers, and house to run our high-energy canine. And never as soon as did I’ve to attend for a stall at any DC charging stations we pulled into, even when touring in the course of the lengthy Easter weekend. The truth is, I often arrived to search out nearly all of stalls unoccupied and accessible for fast ultra-fast charging. And in contrast to what many have skilled within the US, I can solely recall seeing a single damaged charger on my whole 3,000km journey.
The ID Buzz helps a acknowledged most of 170kW DC quick charging from its CCS port, with a comparatively flat charging curve that permits it to go from 5 to 80 % in about half-hour. My stops typically lasted longer although, about 45 minutes to an hour, as a result of we wished to cost to one hundred pc and since the stops had been a welcome and gratifying break after two to a few hours of driving, particularly when you’ll be able to simply open the tailgate and cook dinner up a fast meal.
Cookoo for Ququq
VW says a camper model of the ID Buzz is coming — sometime — but it surely hasn’t dedicated to a agency timeline but. That’s the place Ququq (pronounced kookook) is available in. It’s a small German firm that’s been making all-in-one tenting packing containers for a wide range of automobiles for greater than a decade. As an official VW accent provider, its celebration trick is the power to transform the ID Buzz — cargo or passenger van — right into a practical camper full with a kitchen and mattress in lower than 10 minutes.
I examined the Ququq BusBox-4 tenting field designed particularly to show the ID Buzz right into a tiny cellular house. It truly is a marvel of ingenuity — worth, too, if you happen to power your mind to squint slightly.
See, when VW does lastly ship a real ID California campervan based mostly on the Buzz, it may simply add tens of 1000’s to the already steep value, identical as VW’s present California camper collection can greater than double the worth of a base Transporter immediately. The Ququq BusBox-4, nevertheless, prices only a fraction of that at €2,790 (about $3,000) whereas making it simple to transform that five-seater right into a weekend campervan for mother and pa and their canine whereas the children sleep outdoors in a tent.
The Ququq weighs 62kg (137 kilos) and requires two folks to carry the tenting field into the again of the ID Buzz. It matches simply behind the passenger bench, the place it’s secured to the van’s lashing factors with included ratchet straps. It’s slightly inelegant, but it surely will get the job accomplished, and it’s simple sufficient for a few sturdy people to swap out and in of the van at any time when the need strikes.
The 10cm-thick mattress sleeps two comfortably, measuring 125 x 195cm when unfolded over the collapsed passenger bench. That makes for a somewhat comfortable association that my spouse and I however discovered to be sufficiently roomy. Unfolding the three-part mattress requires the proper mixture of power and finesse, which we may every do solo (and safely — watch your fingers!) after just a few days of follow.
Contained in the BusBox-4, you’ll discover a compact however environment friendly kitchen. Open it up, and the door folds all the way down to create a handy desk. On the left, you’ll be able to slide out a two-burner fuel range with house beneath for issues like spices, espresso and tea provides, cutlery, and cooking utensils. Fold up the windscreen and lock the small butane cartridges into place, and also you’re prepared to start out cooking with hearth.
In the course of the opened Ququq is a slide-out drawer holding a small 12V fridge that may be managed with a Bluetooth app (it’s not wanted). It’s powered by a cable that snakes by the vents of the Ququq field and again to the 12V socket close to the Buzz’s carry gate. The fridge may also be a freezer, but it surely’s both or — not each on the identical time. It’s nothing particular, and never very massive at 15 liters, however nonetheless proved appropriate to our wants. In case you want more room, then a 20-liter fridge can also be accessible.
Lastly, on the appropriate of the open BusBox-4, you will have a pair of 10-liter (2.6-gallon) freshwater tanks with a easy screw-on valve attachment. This part additionally consists of two helpful stainless-steel trays for assist with washing up and two moderately snug chairs that tuck away neatly right into a recess when not in use.
There’s nothing fancy right here, and it does look barely incongruous to the clear, trendy strains of ID Buzz. Nonetheless, it’s a sensible design that’s executed with sturdy and easy-to-clean supplies like handled plywood and aluminum. VW’s so excessive on the Ququq x ID Buzz pairing that the 2 have been featured in official press supplies.
Energy to the folks
I had hoped that VW would give the ID Buzz a Tesla-like Camp Mode, whereby you’ll be able to keep contained in the van for hours whereas nonetheless having fun with powered jacks, lights, music, and heating. Sadly, that was not the case, and there’s no indication if VW will ever supply this, a minimum of not till the ID California campervan arrives.
And whereas the absolutely maxed out ID Buzz I used to be driving was fitted with a single 230V jack underneath the entrance passenger seat, it’s solely energetic for about half-hour when the ignition is on after which for an additional 15 or 20 minutes after the ignition mechanically shuts off on account of inactivity. That presents an actual downside when attempting to cost a laptop computer or hold Starlink web working with out interruption.
Nonetheless, dwelling and dealing from an ID Buzz fitted with a Ququq shouldn’t be solely attainable, but it surely additionally requires fewer compromises than you may assume, simply so long as you’re packing the appropriate gear.
On the ability facet, I introduced alongside a small BaseCharge 1500 battery and photo voltaic panel from Biolite, an organization finest identified for making hearth pits up to now. I had deliberate to carry a bigger and extra succesful AC200Max photo voltaic generator from Bluetti, however after I plugged it into the Buzz’s 230V socket, it tripped the VW’s breaker. Sadly, the AC200Max attracts a gradual 500W, and the Buzz’s inverter can solely produce 300W with a 450W surge. The BaseCharge 1500 pulled simply 112W, and its smaller bodily dimension turned out to be good for our wants.
And not using a camp mode, I additionally hoped that the ID Buzz’s bidirectional charging — a vehicle-to-home charging characteristic that appeared on my infotainment system however requires a future firmware replace to activate — can be prepared for my journey. That might give me one other technique to hold the photo voltaic generator charged or energy my Starlink’s router and dish by way of an adapter. Alas, the replace by no means arrived, and the firmware launch continues to be TBD.
So my technique was to cost the Biolite BaseCharge 1500 off the ID Buzz’s 230V jack at any time when I may and faucet into the Biolite’s 1,521Wh capability battery and its quite a few AC (1200W with 2400W surge) and DC outputs (USB-C, USB-A, wi-fi charging pad, and 12V) to offer on-demand energy to all of the gear we carried for work and play. I all the time charged it when driving and shortly bought into the behavior of repeatedly hitting the ignition button all through the workday to maintain the juice flowing. When away from the van, I’d complement charging with a 100W Biolite photo voltaic panel that I’d place on the roof with the cable snaked again by a cracked window to the BaseCharge battery.
I even purchased a €120 Kind 2 adapter cable that allow me cost the BaseCharge battery from public EV chargers. I by no means had to make use of it, although, besides as soon as as an early proof-of-concept check.
The technique labored effectively. I used to be in a position to hold the Biolite battery charged at over 80 % more often than not whereas additionally protecting all my workplace gear operating. I solely allowed the BaseCharge 1500 to drop as little as 30 % as soon as, however that’s solely as a result of I had a 12-hour drive developing which was loads of time for the VW’s 230V port to simply return the Biolite’s cost to one hundred pc.
The Biolite BaseCharge 1500 did have some quirks, although. The fan would come on each 10 minutes or so after which run for 30 seconds at too excessive a pitch regardless of the AC load solely pulling round 50W — that’s a fairly low threshold for an inverter fan. As soon as, I had a USB overload error that required me to reset the gadget, and a number of occasions the show confirmed low enter energy readings that might be corrected by reinserting the AC or solar energy charging cables.
Hit the street, jacks
The ID Buzz’s USB-C ports (no USB-A wherever) provided a combined bag of capabilities that I by no means did absolutely work out. The 2 USB-C ports positioned on the dashboard provided charging and information (for CarPlay and Android Auto) however didn’t hold my Apple and Android telephones charged regardless of claiming to help as much as 15W of cost. That’s unhealthy as a result of I wanted a minimum of one telephone to complement VW’s stuttery satnav.
Fortuitously, the USB-C ports within the entrance passenger door and every sliding door present as much as 45W of USB-C PD energy. That meant snaking a 10-foot-long USB-C cable from my telephone mounted to the left of the steering wheel all the way in which to the entrance passenger door on the appropriate.
The USB-C ports, just like the 230V AC jack, solely had energy when the ignition was on and for a couple of minutes after it was turned off. The 12V / 120W cigarette lighter jack within the again powering the Ququq’s fridge had steady energy, nevertheless, because it pulled straight off the Buzz’s small 12V starter battery. VW says its clever onboard provide administration system mechanically takes varied actions to forestall the 12-volt automobile battery from discharging when subjected to a heavy load.
Staying linked whereas disconnecting
On the information facet, I reactivated my Starlink RV subscription that I placed on maintain on the finish of final summer season. My spouse and I additionally introduced three telephones with massive information plans from three totally different suppliers. These would act as backup to my Starlink web or for at any time when we didn’t really feel like taking the ten minutes required to reconfigure the van for Elon Musk’s house web.
Starlink was bulletproof all the journey, with downloads averaging over 150Mbps and uploads averaging 20Mbps regardless of the place my spouse and I made a decision to arrange an workplace, although I used to be cautious to keep away from tree protection. Nonetheless, it appeared to deal with overhead branches and different obstructions even higher than final summer season’s Starlink RV assessment. From the attitude of our work colleagues, we appeared to perform no otherwise than after we had been working from house, a minimum of till the Matterhorn — the actual one in Switzerland — confirmed up in a Zoom name.
In any other case, 5G information was typically accessible and supplied sooner uploads in conditions the place I wanted to add video, for instance. I solely tried to make use of the Buzz’s 4G hotspot just a few occasions: as soon as, it failed to attach with my iPhone and one other, it was simply too gradual to hassle utilizing from my MacBook. Nonetheless, I suppose it was good to have a fifth connectivity choice. I ignored public Wi-Fi at locations like campsites because it was usually a lot slower than something I had in tow.
Drive, sleep, work, repeat
As a rule of thumb, the smaller a automobile, the extra typically it must be reconfigured all through the day. And in comparison with vanlifer platforms just like the Ford Transit and Mercedes Benz Sprinter, the VW ID Buzz is unquestionably on the small facet.
On any given day, my spouse and I might reconfigure the van by a development of three modes: driving, sleeping, and dealing. Fortuitously, the Ququq’s kitchen was all the time accessible at any time when parked.
In driving mode, the Ququq and bedding supplies had been folded up and secured, the rear passenger seats flattened for Hank to roam round and for the Biolite battery plugged into the 230V socket and positioned behind the entrance passenger seat the place its ports may nonetheless be accessed.
Sleeping mode meant transferring the Biolite battery (and another cumbersome gadgets) to the driving force’s seat the place it may energy the Starlink (cable operating by a barely cracked window) and recharge our telephones and laptops in a single day. I often unplugged the Starlink’s AC cable earlier than falling asleep to forestall the Biolite’s irritating inverter fan from turning on. After flattening the bench seat, we may unfold and make the mattress. Hank slept in a big moveable crate, resting primarily on the entrance passenger seat. And since I couldn’t rely on the Buzz’s lighting, we used a chargeable Biolite lantern to maintain the inside illuminated with gentle that diverse from a heat candle glow to tripping balls.
Work mode meant eradicating Hank’s crate and folding the mattress again as much as carry the right-side rear passenger seat to create a second inside workstation. The ID Buzz is fitted with two somewhat flimsy folding tables on the backs of the entrance seats that also proved helpful all through the workday. When the climate was good, we may work outdoors within the folding Ququq chairs utilizing the kitchen’s door as a makeshift desktop. The ID Buzz was way more snug and versatile than it would seem, often with a lot better views than any workplace cubicle.
It was all slightly messy at first, however quickly all our gear discovered a house with assist from the ID Buzz’s quite a few door and seat pockets. After about three days, we had every reconfiguration mode all the way down to a fairly quick routine.
The largest annoyance was overlaying the home windows at evening whereas parked at crowded campsites. Since VW isn’t but providing a camper model of the ID Buzz, I needed to invent my very own privateness answer: a yoga mat for the entrance window and aluminum foil all over the place else — gadgets we had been carrying anyway.
At evening I’d unfurl the yoga mat contained in the entrance windshield the place it might be gingerly held in place by the visors. I then squirted slightly all-purpose cleaner on the within of the opposite home windows, which allowed the foil to “stick.” It labored surprisingly effectively at first, putting in in about 5 to 10 minutes. However in our try and hold waste to a minimal, we reused the foil every day, inflicting it to change into much less sticky the extra it was crumpled and torn. Quickly we had been tasked with attempting to piece collectively an enormous vertical jigsaw puzzle every evening. If I did all of it once more, I’d discover a third-party answer with magnets or suction cups earlier than heading out.
Conditioning the air
With out the type of Camp Mode discovered on Teslas, warmth — which VW lumps underneath the complicated catchall of “air con” — was all the time going to be a problem when attempting to work and sleep in temperatures that usually hovered round freezing. And similar to with the 230V outlet and USB-C ports, I needed to hold hitting the ignition button all through the workday to maintain the warmth flowing from the ID Buzz’s vents. On this means, I may warmth the van for about 45 minutes at a time earlier than needing to hit the ignition button once more.
At evening, I found I may repurpose the Buzz’s preheat characteristic — designed to heat the van to a preset temperature for the each day commute — to maintain the cabin hospitable whereas we slept even when temps dropped to -2C (28F) on the Swiss mountain farms the place we parked. Utilizing VW’s WeConnect ID app whereas mendacity in mattress, I set the heater to return on at 3:30AM after which once more at 6AM. You can too configure the preheat perform straight from the VW’s infotainment system.
I did carry alongside a small house heater however by no means had to make use of it.
Off the grid
Preserving the heater operating and Biolite battery modified additionally had an impression on driving vary. The ID Buzz’s battery drained from 92 % to 79 % over the course of two days whereas parked at one notably chilly and moist campsite in pretty Kaysersberg, France. Throughout that point, I used to be attempting to maintain the Biolite’s battery charged underneath the pressure of all our workplace gear and toys whereas additionally heating the entrance passenger seat for my spouse and sustaining the air temperature at 21C (70F) for a number of hours every day.
Now, if VW’s estimate is appropriate, then 13 % of the Buzz’s 77kWh (usable) battery capability equates to 10kWh consumed. Meaning we had been utilizing about 5kWh per day to dwell and work from an ID Buzz on the onset of spring. Put one other means, the ID Buzz can help a pair for nearly two weeks of off-grid boondocking, assuming you’ve bought sufficient meals and water and may shortly get to a charging station when you determine to rejoin society.
By the way, we by no means ran out of water** on this journey and solely depleted two of the six butane cooking fuel canisters we carried.
**Some water, often extracted from cheap Negronis and native wines, was acquired alongside the way in which. Hank, who is understood to eat his personal poo, additionally drank from puddles.
The Ququq BusBox-4 turns the full-time ID Buzz five-passenger van right into a succesful two-person (plus canine) camper everytime you really feel prefer it whereas additionally probably saving you a bundle over the anticipated value of VW’s devoted ID California campervan… at any time when that may launch.
Sure, there are compromises to make, particularly for the reason that ID Buzz will solely energy your electronics for about 45 minutes at a time. Meaning bringing alongside a modestly-sized photo voltaic generator just like the Biolite BaseCharge 1500 for uninterrupted energy to AC gadgets like Starlink web all through a workday. Issues ought to get simpler as soon as VW releases the long-promised software program replace (and adapter) to allow bi-directional charging. However given VW’s Microbus heritage, the shortage of a Tesla-like Camp Mode to maintain the ID Buzz’s AC inverter, USB jacks, lights, music, and heating operational whereas parked is an actual oversight, for my part.
Spending just a few weeks dwelling and dealing from the ID Buzz in seven nations round Europe has me excited for the electrical way forward for vanlife, particularly now that Mercedes Benz has introduced its new modular VAN.EA electrical platform that ought to allow e-campers of all sizes beginning in 2026. We’ve additionally bought Winnebago and EcoFlow teaming up for a July announcement of what might be a manufacturing model of the all-electric eRV constructed atop an extended-range Ford E-Transit.
A much bigger ID Buzz for the US is coming
However for VW followers, a long-wheelbase model of the ID Buzz specced for the US is being introduced on June 2nd forward of gross sales in 2024. It’s anticipated to characteristic much more inside house, an even bigger battery, and — fingers crossed — higher efficiency from the infotainment system, which has reportedly been vastly improved on VW’s new ID.7. Notably, it’s the LWB ID Buzz that VW says will in the future underpin the long run ID California campervan.
However there’s no want to attend if you happen to dwell in Europe, the place e-vanlife in a Voltswagen Microbuzz — if I could also be so daring — is already a actuality.
All pictures by Thomas Ricker / The Verge