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An all-electric dune buggy from the future

LISTEN 09:13

The Volkswagen I.D. Buggy is a concept car that draws inspiration from the iconic dune buggies of the 1960s. A fully electric vehicle built on Volkswagen’s new MEB modular platform, the I.D. Buggy is part of the company’s I.D. series of vehicles that includes six concept cars as of 2019. Unlike some of its siblings though, the I.D. Buggy won’t make it into production.

Having used the I.D. series to develop a modern successor to the iconic VW Bus, the German firm also created a modern interpretation of the classic dune buggy. The latter became known in the 1960s, when some privateers from California, most notably Bruce Meyers, converted rear-engined Volkswagen Beetles into roofless and doorless recreational vehicles for use on sand dunes and beaches. The I.D. Buggy pays tribute to its spiritual predecessor in both design and functionality, but it adds an electric drivetrain into the mix.

2019 Volkswagen I.D. BUGGY Concept Exterior

  • Evokes original dune buggy
  • Retro design
  • Two-tone body
  • LED lights
  • Roll-over hoops
  • Off-road wheels
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The front end retains the frog-eyed look of its spiritual predecessor

The I.D. Buggy is futuristic and retro at the same time. It’s retro because it looks a lot like the original buggies of the 1960s. It has oldschool fenders that only cover the top of the wheels, it doesn’t have doors and a roof, and its front and rear fascias are minimalistic. And it’s somewhat futuristic because the buggy’s famous styling cues were redesigned with a modern twist. The simple lines are actually stylish and backed by modern-looking bumpers and LED lights. The concept also sits a tad higher than the original dune buggies.

The front end retains the frog-eyed look of its spiritual predecessor. However, the headlamps aren’t mounted atop the fenders, but at the corners of the fascia, like on most modern cars. Volkswagen retained the round headlamps design for a better connection with the original dune buggy. It doesn’t have a grille for the exact same reasons, while the front hood raises dramatically toward the fenders.

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The profile screams "oldschool dune buggy." The swoopy beltline descends from the top of the front fenders to pass under the area where the doors should be and than ascends in a smoother fashion toward the rear fenders. This is where Volkswagen added a modern twist by finishing the lower section in dark blue and adding a silver element that simulates a side skirt. The two-tone paint scheme also creates a floating effect for the upper section of the body.

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The Buggy rides on 18-inch wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich All-Terrain off-road tires

The rear fascia mirrors the front end almost 100 percent. The only notable difference is the taller fascia, which results in a taller bumper and taillights placed higher compared to the beltline. The taillights are round just like the headlamps, but feature an "X" LED pattern in the center. Big rollover hoops cover the deck lid, which was carved out to make room for luggage or, according to Volkswagen, an additional pair of seats.

The I.D. Buggy rides on 18-inch wheels finished in silver and Fern Green, just like the body. They are wrapped in BF Goodrich All-Terrain off-road tires, so this concept car is ready to tackle the great outdoors. Needless to say, it’s more than just a sand buggy.

All told, the I.D. Buggy is a cool revival of the dune buggy spirit when it comes to visuals.

2019 Volkswagen I.D. BUGGY Concept Interior

  • No-frills cabin
  • Simple dashboard
  • Digital cluster
  • Hexagonal steering wheel
  • Green accents
  • Waterproof materials
  • Two seats
2019 Volkswagen I.D. BUGGY Concept
- image 827201
The small instrument cluster only displays vital information like speed, gears, and whether the lights are on or off

The original dune buggy was a no-nonsense vehicle inside the cabin. This was mostly because most cars, and especially the Beetle it was based on, has spartan interiors, but such a vehicle didn’t need comfort features anyway. Volkswagen made sure the I.D. Buggy remains true to that concept with a really simple design that skips all the buttons, knobs, displays, and comfort features we find in most modern vehicles.

The dashboard is just a big piece of dark blue plastic from one side to the other. Don’t bother looking for buttons and knobs as there aren’t any. There is a small instrument cluster behind the steering wheel, but it only displays vital information like speed, gears, and whether the lights are on or off. The steering wheel is equally simple and includes just a couple of touch-sensitive buttons on each side of the horizontal spoke.

2019 Volkswagen I.D. BUGGY Concept
- image 830758
Both the steering wheel and the seats are wrapped in waterproof materials

The Fern Green paint that trickles inside the cabin on various surfaces and the green spoke of the steering wheel contribute to the interior’s vintage vibe. There’s no center stack and despite this concept having an electric drivetrain, there is a center console between the seats. However, it’s rather thin so it doesn’t really affect legroom.

The seats are basic as well, and even though they don’t have solid side bolsters, the fact that the seating surface is carved pretty deep into the seat must provide some support. Both the steering wheel and the seats are wrapped in waterproof materials, including Nappa leather and anti-slip fabric.

2019 Volkswagen I.D. BUGGY Concept
- image 830761

The concept was designed with driver and front passenger seats only, but Volkswagen says there’s room for two more seats in the back. Due to limited space though, these would be smaller, so the I.D. Buggy is limited to a 2+2 layout instead of a full-blown five-seater.

2019 Volkswagen I.D. BUGGY Concept Drivetrain

  • MEB platform
  • Electric motor
  • 62-kWh battery
  • 201 horsepower
  • 155-mile range
  • 0 to 62 in 7.2 seconds
  • 99-mph top speed
2019 Volkswagen I.D. BUGGY Concept
- image 827190
Unlike previous I.D. concepts, the Buggy has only one electric motor

Just like the I.D.-badged vehicles before it, the Buggy is an all-electric vehicle. And just like its EV cousins, it has a unique battery. The 62-kWh lithium-ion stack, for instance, is smaller than those in the I.D. Vizzion and I.D. Buzz, which feature a 111-kWh battery, or the I.D. Crozz, fitted with a 83-kWh unit. And unlike the aforementioned concepts, the Buggy has only one electric motor. Volkswagen’s new MEB platform supports electric motors on both axles, but the German firm went with a rear-mounted unit only.

VW didn’t explain the absence of a second motor, but it probably has something to do with the fact that the original dune buggies had rear-mounted engines. The company did mention that a second electric motor could be added to create an all-wheel-drive layout.

2019 Volkswagen I.D. BUGGY Concept
- image 827189
The lithium-ion battery enables a maximum range of 155 miles

The single motor generates 201-horsepower. This figure confirms that the unit is shared with other I.D. concepts. A second, front-mounted motor would increase output to 302 horses, just like in the I.D. Buzz, I.D. Vizzion, and I.D. Crozz. Volkswagen estimates mileage at 155 miles per single charge. This is notably lower than other I.D. concepts and that’s mostly because the battery is smaller. The I.D. Buzz, for instance, returns 270 miles per charge thanks to its 111-kWh battery, while the I.D. Vizzion is estimated to return up to 413 miles when regenerative braking is factored in.

Granted, the I.D. Buggy isn’t as impressive as its siblings in this department, but it’s still potent compared to most production electric vehicles on the market.

2019 Volkswagen I.D. BUGGY Concept
- image 830751

Performance-wise, the I.D. Buggy is pretty quick. The sprint to 62 mph comes in just 7.2 seconds, while top speed is electronically limited to 99 mph. Again, Volkswagen unveiled quicker I.D. concepts in the past, but the Buggy in an off-roader and not a sports car.


2019 Volkswagen I.D. BUGGY Concept
- image 827197

Is the I.D. Buggy a cool car? Definitely! Will it make it into production? No way! So why are we even talking about it? Well, I don’t know about you, but I like buggies. They’re lightweight sports cars with some off-road capability. You can’t drive them in the cold season, but they’re loads of fun during summer.

What’s more, I like what Volkswagen is doing with the I.D. line. Not only it includes sports cars and hatchbacks, but the badge also spawned two revivals of iconic vehicles: the bus and now the buggy. And it also seems that the buggy is making a comeback, albeit in concept form only so far. Before VW launched the I.D. Buggy, Citroen came out with the E-Mehari and the C-Buggy. An all-electric buggy wouldn’t make much sense financially for a company like Volkswagen, but it’s a cool thing to have in concept form and proves that the new MEB platform is universal. And that’s exactly what I want to see from a company that promises tens of electric vehicles over the next few years.

  • Leave it
    • Just a concept car
    • Doesn’t make sense financially

Further reading

1969 HAZ Buggy
- image 800087

Read our full review of the 1969 HAZ Buggy.

2011 Volkswagen study buggy up! High Resolution Exterior
- image 416621

Read our full review of the 2011 Volkswagen Study Buggy Up!.

2018 Volkswagen I.D. Vizzion Exterior
- image 771806

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen I.D. Vizzion Concept.

2017 Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 700707

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen I.D. Buzz.

Volkswagen Tries to Impress with the CROZZ II – Because One Ugly SUV Wasn't Enough High Resolution Exterior
- image 730425

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen I.D. Crozz II

Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
About the author

Today Volkswagen introduced the next member of the ID. concept family at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show—the I.D. BUGGY. Drawing inspiration from the classic Californian dune buggies of the 60s, the ID. BUGGY shows the versatility of the modular electric drive matrix (MEB) and puts the fun in functional.

I.D. BUGGY is at once futuristic and retro. The MEB chassis integrates a 62kWh lithium-ion battery into the floor and a 201-horsepower electric motor in the rear to give it an expected range of 155 miles on the WLTP cycle. The minimalistic design—no doors or roof on this two-seater—gives drivers the purest experience of classic beach cruising.

Like the dune buggies of the 60s, ID. BUGGY is extremely versatile. All buggies from the 60s featured a high degree of modular variability—based on the chassis of the legendary Beetle with a four-cylinder boxer engine running at the rear. Small-series manufacturers stretched a body made of fiberglass over the chassis and engine of the Beetle, thus writing automotive history. The same versatility is possible with ID. BUGGY—while the ID. BUGGY concept car is a pure 2-seater; it can also be converted to a 2+2-seater and an additional electric motor could be added to the front axle in order to make four-wheel drive possible. In addition, the BUGGY’s modular design allows for the composite upper body to be detached from the MEB chassis, opening up a world of possibilities for third-party manufacturers, as the original Meyers Manx kit did for the first buggies.

Like the classic Beetle and Bus, ID. BUGGY has no need for a grille, and yet the summer cruiser is instantly recognizable as a Volkswagen. The prominently raised hood, fenders and tail end hint at the concept’s off-road chops, while three-dimensional oval LED headlights and taillights, an LED VW logo, and a body that seems to float above the chassis lend an air of approachability.

The floating effect is created by the use of two colors next to each other. The top half of the car—most notably the striking fenders and shoulders—is painted in matte Fern Green, while the bottom portion is painted in a textured Grey Tech Blue. The green part visually floats above the dark blue area.

ID. BUGGY is equipped properly for an all-terrain vehicle. It features standard 18-inch wheels and BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A® off-road tires (255/55 at front and 285/60 at rear). A solid aluminum underbody guard ensures that the front axle and ancillaries are not damaged during off-road driving, and the aluminum side sill panel assumes the function of an additional underbody guard. Should another vehicle need a tow or should the BUGGY itself be incapacitated, two robust red steel eyelets are integrated in the bumpers.

The reinforced windscreen frame and the Targa bar, which is also open at the side, provides rollover support. There are no doors and no roof, but a black tarp can be stretched between the windscreen frame and the Targa bar as a sun shield or as light weather protection.

The open concept car is 160.0 in long, 74.4 in wide and 57.6 in high, featuring short front and rear overhangs (27.0 and 28.6 in respectively). The wheelbase is 104.3 in and ground clearance is 9.4 in.

The ID. BUGGY’s minimalist interior is characterized by easy handling and waterproof materials. All elements surrounding the exterior are a continuation of the body, painted in Fern Green, while the majority of the interior trim is finished in a robust Grey Tech Blue soft-touch paint. The driver and passenger sit on seats with headrests and belt guides integrated into the backrests, while the floor plate is outfitted with anti-slip knobs.

Despite the shortened wheelbase of the concept car, passengers have an unusually large amount of space. This is due to the ID. family’s compact electric drive and axles arranged further to the outside. This open space always provides room that is about one class above that of comparable cars with a conventional drivetrain.

The minimalistic cockpit has been designed to match the character and design of the ID. BUGGY. With the “Hey you” display in the cockpit, the concept car greets its driver and draws attention to the fact that it is ready for operation. A hexagonal steering wheel, covered with water-repellent Nappa leather, features touch controls in the crossbar, and a digital instrument cluster keeps the dash uncluttered.
Electric drive

The zero-emissions drivetrain of the I.D. BUGGY is made up of the electric motor integrated in the rear axle, power electronics, a single-speed gearbox, the high-voltage flat battery (62 kWh) arranged in the car floor to save space, and the additional units integrated in the vehicle front end. The electric motor delivers 201 horsepower and maximum torque of 228 lb-ft from standstill. This means that the electric vehicle always provides enough power on the rear axle, even off-road. With full acceleration on paved slopes, the concept car sprints from zero to 62 mph in just 7.2 seconds. The maximum speed is electronically controlled at 99 mph.

As an alternative to the rear-wheel-drive layout, it is also possible to fit a second electric motor in the front axle of the ID. BUGGY. In this case, an “electric propshaft” would distribute the power of the 4Motion® four-wheel drive between the front and rear axles in fractions of a second.

Regardless of rear drive or four-wheel drive, power electronics control the high-voltage energy flow between the engine and battery. The power electronics convert direct current (DC) stored in the battery into alternating current (AC). The on-board electronics are supplied with 12V via a DC/DC converter. The position of the battery in the vehicle floor gives ID. BUGGY a lower center of gravity for better handling.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release

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