VW ID. Buggy hopes to spark another surge out on the dunes
The ‘60s dune buggy craze was born when Californian Bruce Meyers sculpted a low-slung, sporty fiberglass body and placed it atop a shortened VW Bug chassis. The Meyers Manx is the original and most recognizable of dune buggies, but the market was soon crowded with competitors. VW hopes that the ID. Buggy spawns the same enthusiasm.
Debuting ahead of the Geneva Auto Show, Volkswagen’s ID. Buggy is the brand’s fifth concept built on its modular electric-drive matrix (MEB) platform, showing off just how versatile the chassis can be while wholeheartedly embracing VW’s role in the history of dune buggies. The idea is to highlight and honor the artistry and ingenuity that can come from small manufacturers.
Rather than employing an air-cooled, gasoline-powered flat-four engine like its Bug progenitor, the ID. Buggy drives its rear wheels with a 201-horsepower electric motor and lithium-ion batteries incorporated into the floor. All-wheel drive is a possibility due to the flexibility of the platform—all the better to scramble up dunes with. Another possibility is 2+2 seating, although the concept only sports twin buckets in this configuration. With no doors and an open top, the runabout certainly looks like a dune buggy, but its similarities go beyond looks.
Just like the VW Beetle that spawned hundreds of kit car manufacturers to attempt their own spin on sports car or off-road styling, the MEB platform uses a separate chassis with a self-supporting body, in this case made of aluminum, steel, and plastic. That means that, like the Beetle, the MEB’s chassis and drivetrain don’t rely on the body for mounting locations, leaving just about everything from the rocker panels up to the imagination of the designer.
VW is opening up the platform to third-party use, welcoming manufacturers to see what they can do with a zero-emissions starting point. Instead of companies using only a manufacturer’s crate engine for low-volume production as they often do now, a small outfit could start with an entire electric platform and build unique bodies that fit just about any niche. As difficult as it is to crack into new car manufacturing, this could be an entry point for smaller manufacturers to provide variety and packaging innovation in the market where they might otherwise have been discouraged.
Maybe, just maybe, some small company could offer a kit to graft a low-slung, sporty fiberglass body atop a VW MEB chassis. Long live the dune buggy! Bring on the coachbuilders!