Literally, five years after Volkswagen unveiled its first concept electric microbus, ID Buzz, we are finally getting our first glimpse of the vehicle on the road. Volkswagen said the ID Buzz will serve as a platform for the automaker’s full-scale commercial ride hailing. As of now, the company is testing it in Munich. Volkswagen has planned to deploy the ID Buzz on public roads and at a private track near the city’s airport.
The car will use hardware and software developed by Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based start up backed by Ford and Volkswagen. Back in 2019, the two automakers formed a “global alliance” to co-develop electric and autonomous vehicles. As part of that deal, Volkswagen invested $2.6 billion in Argo. Argo opened an office in Munich and cooperated with Volkswagen’s driving team based there.
As of now, Argo is currently using modified Ford vehicles for its testing in the US and has yet to reveal its own purpose-built AV. The self-driving ID Buzz will be a more fully realized version of Argo’s AV hardware and software. Volkswagen said it has planned to put the vans in service as a ride sharing fleet under its subsidiary Moia.
It is to be noted that despite high hopes AVs are still far away from its expectations. The industry has been consolidating rapidly over the past year. In the last few months, we have seen many companies’ joining hands with each other, merge with each other, and acquire.
Volkswagen and Argo confirmed that they have faith in their promise to hit the targeted deadline. Argo CEO Bryan Salesky was more realistic about the timeline. In a recent interview, he said the technology will be “ready when it’s ready” while talking about the deadline. Argo has been testing its fourth generation vehicles in Miami, Austin, and Washington, DC, for the last few years. By the end of the year, Argo has planned to launch a ride-hail service in the US with Lyft.