Remember the New Beetle? How about the New Buggy?
Volkswagen has always been a progressive company and since their inception has always looked forward. From the very first "Peoples Car" , the beloved Beetle, there has been a long line of refinements and changes that has kept VW on the cutting edge. The one thing that VW lost sight of in the 1990's was that they had developed a beautiful past that was filled with warm fuzzy memories and goodwill, especially here in the US. The homely rugged Beetle was a friend to so many Americans and the nostalgia factor was huge. When California based designers came up with the Concept One design in 1994 and displayed it at the Detroit Auto Show, America went wild. It took VW a few years to turn that concept into a real car, but in 1998 when the New Beetle hit the streets of America, it absolutely changed the downward spiral of sales and brought new enthusiasm and tons of customers back to the brand. It was so powerful that even I walked into a VW dealership and bought a New Beetle, followed by a new Jetta wagon, and even later a used Passat and a few more Beetles. When VW showed the Concept Microbus in the early 2000's I thought they were going to continue the roll and again capitalize on the huge nostalgia of US customers. I even dreamed that some day they might make a retro "New Ghia" sports car, and maybe even a Type 3 inspired coupe, fastback and wagon. Sadly the Microbus project was canned and VW decided it was wise to build the Phaeton, a nearly $100,000 luxury car to compete with Mercedes and BMW. The polar opposite of what the "Peoples Car" concept was all about.
When VW recently unveiled the I.D. Buzz Microbus inspired electric at the Pebble Beach Concours, I was there to see it in person. A spectacular creation and all modern whizz-bang fully electric people carrier that has as much chance of becoming a production car as the I.D. Buggy Concept that they are unveiling this week at the Geneva show. Fantastic styling exercises and promotional tools, both of these creations are, and they will certainly draw attention to the furthering of all electric cars, but I have extreme doubts that anything of the like will ever be available at the local VW dealer near me.
With that being said, if for some miraculous reason the obviously Meyers Manx inspired I.D. Buggy were to grace the VW lot here in Southern California where the whole Buggy craze started, I would surely head on down for a closer look. The reveal of this one is as far away from the hot California sand as possible. Obviously VW knows best here...that Phaeton was a good move...lets show an electric dune buggy in Switzerland. VW does say the I.D. Buzz will be on the market in 2022, but I will believe it when I see it. The I.D. Buggy seems even less real.
I applaud the artists, the designers and builder of the concept much as I did with the Concept 1 and variety of Microbus inspired creations, but I am shaking my head at the bean counters and tie wearing executives that pilot the whole Volkswagen "machine". Always looking forward and completely missing the passion of the American VW fan when it comes to the soul and nostalgia that makes our country what it is. We love our retro inspired Mustangs and Camaros, we embraced the New Beetle and bought them up like crazy. We wanted the Microbus, we wanted a new Ghia, we want this amazing Buggy to blast down the coast. The happiest thing we have in America these days is our past. We crave the fun and comfort of simpler times. Looking forward seems pretty scary. We all could use a fun buggy like this to brighten up our lives...instead we will just get a new sharper edged version of the Passat, and a wall between us and the hills of Baja.
But man is this thing cool! I want mine in blue metal flake.