Volkswagen ID. Buzz gets roof-mounted solar panels from ABT

Deliveries of the long-awaited Volkswagen ID. Buzz have started in Europe, and the aftermarket has taken notice. German tuner ABT announced a roof-mounted solar panel setup designed to increase the electric van’s driving range and power equipment while camping.

ABT explains that neatly integrating solar panels into the Buzz’s roof, which isn’t completely flat, was more difficult than it looks. The final design is surprisingly cohesive: it looks almost like a giant sunroof (in press images, at least). The solar setup is capable of sending up to 600 watts to the battery pack regardless of whether the van is driving or parked, which represents approximately 1,850 miles of range annually — in the right weather conditions, of course. Folks planning on exploring England in their Buzz will likely see a much lower figure.

More range is difficult to argue against, especially when we’re talking about a vehicle designed for adventure. Across the pond, the Buzz ships with a rear-mounted, 204-horsepower electric motor that draws electricity from an 82-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Its driving range checks in at up to 258 miles when tested on the WLTP cycle, which leans towards the optimistic side of the scale. Note that this isn’t the version of the Buzz that we’ll see here; Volkswagen will bring a long-wheelbase model that hasn’t been unveiled yet to the United States.

The solar panels can also be configured to power camping equipment, such as a fridge, aftermarket interior lighting and a sound system, so users will be able to stay off the grid without fully draining the battery pack. And, the commercial, window-less variant of the Buzz can benefit from this technology as well: the panels are capable of powering a refrigerated compartment used to transport fresh meat, for example.

ABT’s roof-mounted solar panel setup is scheduled to enter production in early 2024. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but the company notes that Volkswagen Group Services will handle the conversion. Looking ahead, ABT is considering designing a second solar setup that would place panels on the sides of the Buzz to increase the output to over 1,000 watts. There’s no word on how they’ll be integrated into the body. 

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