There’s a lot of Buzz about the Electric California

We are getting a new VW California campervan! Volkswagen recently teased us with some juicy nuggets of information and casually dropped into the conversation that the ID.California has been confirmed. It’ll be based on the MEB platform and is another new model that shares it’s DNA with the ID.Buzz.

The latest model to join the VW California family, called the ID. California, will be based on the eagerly awaited ID.Buzz concept van which already will come in both People Mover (passenger) and Cargo (commercial vehicle) forms. While details of the ID.California are still sparse, we know that production of the ID.Buzz has already started at VW’s Hannover facility and that the ID.California will start production “in the second half of this decade”.

Initially aimed to look reminiscent of the beloved Type 2 camper van of the 1950s, the ID.Buzz will be built on VWs MEB bespoke EV platform. The largest battery in the range is 111kWh which will produce a maximum range of 340 miles.

With the additional weight of all the camping gear inside a California, it’s safe to assume that the range will be much less unless VW come up with some kind of range extender. It will support rapid charging however, which will be welcome but that’ll only be as good as the available charging infrastructure at the time.

We hope, come 2025, that there will be many more charging points around. A Campervan and range anxiety is not going to be a great combination.

Announcing the VW ID.California

So what was actually said? You can find the full press release here.

There are a some interesting paragraphs of note.

The ID. California based on the ID. Buzz will combine the ongoing trend towards mobile leisure arrangements with sustainable CO2-neutral mobility,” said Dr. Carsten Intra, chairman of VW Commercial board of management.

In my personal opinion, this statement shouldn’t be taken too literally. The ID.Buzz certainly has everyone’s attention at the moment. It’s March release date will soon be upon us, so naturally there are a lot of eyeballs on it.  

The ID.Buzz is what we naturally think of because of all of the media coverage, but crucially the statement says ‘based on the ID.Buzz’. Just like the ID.Cargo is based on the ID.Buzz.

You’ve probably heard less about the ID.Cargo than you have about the ID.Buzz, or more likely you’ve never heard of it.

Here’s what the official Volkswagen website says about it. 

“The ID.Cargo is a zero emissions vehicle, making it a huge step forward in sustainable commercial driving. The 48-kWh battery can be charged to 80% capacity in 15 minutes using a 150 kW DC fast charging system. It will also charge from any conventional household socket, and from a range of compatible charging stations and wallboxes. The future production version will feature inductive (contactless) charging. The concept also has a solar module on the roof that can generate enough energy to extend range by up to 15 km a day.”

The ID.Cargo concept vehicle has a payload of 800kg, is 5,048 mm long, 1,976 mm wide, 1,963 mm tall and has a wheelbase of 3,300 mm.

Those numbers sound very familiar…very familiar indeed!

And check out the shape.

The ID.Cargo is less sleek, less people-carrier looking than the ID.Buzz with it’s sloping rearward roofline. The ID.Cargo is more ‘boxy’, more..well…more California-shaped! For my money, the ID.California will share more in common with the ID.Cargo than it will with the ID.Buzz. It’ll be nice if we see that solar panel carried forward over to the pop top, especially if it will also split charge the leisure batteries. That’ll certainly be a welcome addition.

Can I hire an ID.California?

Yes, just as soon as we have one of course! We will be first in line with a bulk order to make sure we have enough to go around for anyone who wants to try it. I’m excited about the prospect of it.

Realistically, I think we will probably see it released in March 2025 with the order books opening in August. Hopefully VW will have sorted their delivery times by then and we could have it on hire for the 2026 camping season which starts in March/April.

fingers crossed.

How big is the ID.California?

Well, this is all speculation on my part of course, but assuming the ID.Cargo will be the base vehicle for the ID.California, let’s take a look at the evidence.

Let’s compare the physical dimensions.

MODELLENGTHWIDTHHEIGHT
T6.14.90 m1.91 m1.99 m
ID.Cargo5.05 m1.97 m1.96 m
ID.Buzz4.65 m1.91 m1.87 m

The ID.Buzz is just too small in length and height to be the next California. VW would probably have to redesign all the internals of the existing California fittings. It would just make more economic sense to shift it all into the ID.Cargo.

What about the T7 California?

In short, there isn’t going to be one. VW have already confirmed that the T6.1 platform will continue to be built alongside the T7 as they cover different markets. The T7 is essentially a replacement for a Sharan or Caravelle, even though it’s actually smaller than a Caravelle, but it’s catering for that 7 seater MPV segment. The T6.1 will continue to be the weapon of choice for the Transporter\commercial vehicle segment, and we are including the California in that same group.

Will VW increase production volumes of the VW California?

Those of us who are California veterans will know all about the long lead times for a Cali. It’s the most frequently discussed topic on the forums. Almost daily, anxious customers are comparing what their order dates were and trying to second guess when they will ,finally, take delivery. Some even stalk the shipping lanes and debate about how high or low the container ships are sitting in the water, all in an effort to guess how much of their agonising wait they have left until it appears at the dealership for excited owners.

With the monumental demand in interest for the VW California range, fuelled by the pandemic, the lead times and waits for the vehicle has reached unprecedented highs. You can now reasonably expect to wait 12 months or more for your newly ordered VW California.

VW do seem to be addressing this issue, although it sounds very much like it’s their plan B option!

In an announcement in September 2021 VW published a press release which discusses their production roadmap.

Bertina Murkovic, Chair of the Works Council at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles said: “After the disappointment of Porsche deciding against the Hannover site, we have now agreed on the investment for a future of high utilization levels in Hannover and good strategic prospects for the VWCV brand”.

Dr. Carsten Intra said: “We are developing Hannover into a multi-brand and high-tech site and at the same time strengthen our own commercial vehicle model range. And we’re investing in the sustainable expansion of our successful California model series”, adding that the jobs of the men and women who work in the Hannover plant are secured.

Porsches’ loss is our gain. Hopefully these words from VW will translate into a higher output of the VW California range, at least those already built in Hannover which covers the Ocean and Beach models. The Coast model was recently dropped from the line-up. The Grand California is currently built in Poland, sorry for any of you waiting patiently for your 600’s and 680’s!

Conclusion

It’s always an exciting time when buying a California but just like an iPhone, there is always a newer model around the corner. Prospective buyers looking to buy now will no doubt agonise over what to do, especially considering diesel engines have fallen out of favour. Undeservedly so in my opinion.

Personally, I think diesel is still the best choice for a campervan. The range of the batteries is just not there yet and we just simply don’t have a reliable charging network in place to support it. California owners love the freedom that the vehicles give them, it’s a lifestyle choice. Stressing over range and the availability of charging points at your favourite remotely located campsite is definitely not something you want to be doing.

For me, I’m sticking with the diesels. Well I would say that wouldn’t I, I have a business to run!

Happy camping!

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