TRAVERSE CITY, MI – As much as Volkswagen’s forward-looking I.D. Buzz concept represents a vision of a future vehicle, the small van also harkens back to the German automaker’s original 1950s T1, better known as the Microbus.

“The I.D. Buzz is the new version of the T1 and the transfer of the things the T1 stood for into the current times, offering a lot of the features people are looking for today,” says Matthias Erb, chief engineering officer and member of theVW board of management-North America Region.

The I.D. Buzz, which debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, is expected to spawn an electrified production version in 2020.

Like the T1, an 8-passenger, Beetle-based, rear-engine minivan that debuted in 1950s as the Bulli and became an icon of the 1960s counterculture, the I.D. Buzz suggests a modular-platform-based 8-passenger minivan with a large amount of functionality and flexibility that is efficient and technologically advanced. Like today’s vehicle, the T1 was intended for both recreational and commercial use.

Erb notes the original T1 was considered very up-to-date electronically for its time because it was equipped with a horn, windshield wipers, fuses, a compass and even a tachometer.

The I.D. Buzz builds on that heritage by suggesting sustainability as a zero-emission electrified vehicle, automated driving capability, intuitive usability and connectivity, Erb says. The production vehicle will be easy to drive and operate, like the original Microbus, but its usage could expand into mobility services.

bgritzinger@wardsauto.com @bobgritzinger