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VW's I.D. Buzz Cargo van puts aside the flower power and gets a job

The Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Cargo loses the extra glass and gains a bunch of practicality to be a promising-looking work van.

The Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Cargo is the hard-working cousin of last year's I.D. Buzz passenger van concept, and it looks awesome.

Volkswagen's I.D. Buzz electric van concept made waves when it came out, thanks to its retro styling and promises of autonomous, all-electric driving. Rather than letting the I.D. Buzz revel in its fun, nostalgic Type 2 Transporter styling, VW is putting it to work as the I.D. Buzz Cargo, which it announced on Wednesday.

The I.D. Buzz Cargo is similar in most respects to the I.D. Buzz concept we saw last year, but it has a lot less glass and has a few new features designed to make life on a job site a little easier. First of all, it seats three across with the middle seat folding down to reveal an integrated computer workstation.

Next, it has a pair of 230-volt (because Europe) electrical outlets that would allow owners to plug in any number of tools or devices and have them powered by the Buzz Cargo's big ol' battery. It also has something that Volkswagen is calling Digital Cargo which connects the cargo area to the driver's seat using a CAN system.

Digital Cargo features smart shelves and lighting in the back of the van. Those then interface with a company's order management system to ensure everything's loaded before leaving for the job site. Pretty handy indeed.

The I.D. Buzz Cargo is built on Volkswagen's Modular Electric Drive Kit platform, and with the largest available battery in place, it should offer a range of just under 350 miles of driving, making it a practical replacement for internal combustion-powered work vans. An optional rooftop solar panel can extend that by an additional 9 miles.

On the more "concept" side of things, the I.D. Buzz Cargo will be equipped with VW's I.D. Pilot autonomous driving system, which Volkswagen imagines will be a fully autonomous system in limited situations. VW believes Buzz Cargo could be on the job as early as 2021. I.D. Pilot might be a little tardy, though.