Video | Volkswagen ID. Buzz & Pavegen: capturing energy to power smarter conversations

Find out what an innovative energy-generating floor tile and the pioneering all-electric van and passenger carrier from Volkswagen share in common...

Making small but easy changes to every element of our lives is a great way to begin living more sustainably – and that starts with the journeys we make for work and play. That’s where the Volkswagen ID. Buzz comes in. Available as a family-friendly five-seater or a hard-working panel van, it re-imagines the timeless style and versatility of the iconic Volkswagen Bulli for an all-electric future.

But how can we take those tiny changes, and get them working together to generate broader change? That’s where the power of the crowd and the power of the cloud comes in, using intelligent tech and smart connectivity to connect us all and spark a more collaborative approach to sustainability.

To celebrate the arrival of the ID. Buzz, we’ve set out to find some pioneering British businesses that share its work smarter, live electric ambition. Following our trip to sustainable online fashion firm Rapanui, we’ve headed to Pavegen – a pioneering tech company making high-tech floor tiles that capture kinetic energy from our footsteps and use it to power awareness about sustainability on a wider scale.

So, watch the video above to learn more about what Volkswagen’s all-new all-electric ID. Buzz and Pavegen’s tiles share in common, or read on...

Read more: VW ID. Buzz electric car review


Every step counts; building to something bigger

When Pavegen founder Laurence Kemball-Cook was commuting through Victoria Station one day, he saw the billions of footsteps being made by his fellow commuters and he had a thought: “How much energy is being lost or wasted here? And how can we recapture that and make better use of it?”

In response, he created innovative floor tiles that harness, capture and re-deploy the kinetic energy generated by people’s footsteps. By stepping on a Pavegen tile and depressing it by 5mm, you spin a small rotational generator and create a small spark of power. The unique triangular design of Pavegen’s tiles – with a generator on each corner – helps them work together more efficiently, with lots of small interactions across multiple tiles adding up and combining to make something bigger.


It’s the same theory behind the innovative regenerative braking that helps the ID. Buzz deliver its impressive all-electric range of up to 256 miles in passenger carrier guise, and up to 258 miles in Cargo form. In a conventional ICE vehicle, when you lift off the accelerator or apply the brakes, the kinetic energy you’ve built up is effectively lost or wasted as the petrol or diesel engine continues to burn fuel, and heat builds up in the brake discs as you use them to slow down.

The ID. Buzz does things differently. When you’re driving, the powerful electric motor supplies 204PS and 310Nm to ensure that the hard-working VW ID. Buzz Cargo panel van can carry big loads, or the five-seater ID. Buzz passenger carrier can take more people and more luggage in style. When you lift of the accelerator, the motor switches from powering the vehicle to creating resistance. That acts as a braking force that starts slowing the vehicle down and generates charge – effectively capturing the energy that would normally be lost and directing it back to the battery to be re-used later in the journey.

Volkswagen ID. Buzz Cargo

In fact, the efficiency of the regenerative braking on the ID. Buzz means you spend less time using the brakes, while contributing anywhere between 20-30 percent of its overall range, helping you go further on every trip. When you do need to top-up, the ability to charge from 5% to 80% in as little as 30 minutes with a 170kW ultra-rapid charger means you can fit more on-the-go charging more easily around your day.


Always online; powering smarter conversations

By tapping the unused energy of people’s footsteps on walkways or encouraging people to use the tiles on interactive displays, brands can deploy Pavegen’s tiles in a wealth of unique and ways – using fun games and cloud-based smartphone apps that help them tell their tale in a more sustainable, engaging and rewarding way.

The ID. Buzz also uses smart connected technology to make journeys easier and safer. Inside, it’s designed to be a smart digital living room or a mobile office on wheels. Always-on connectivity ensures your ID. Buzz receives over-the-air updates, so you always have access to the latest navigation, traffic and public charging data on the large digital display and touchscreen. Equally, intuitive Hello ID voice control works with WeConnect smartphone connectivity to let you control your apps without you lifting a finger, while eight USB-C ports keep plenty of devices charged up.

Volkswagen ID. Buzz

As part of its extensive suite of over 30 driver assistance aids, the ID. Buzz also uses ‘swarm’ data to communicate with other vehicles or the cloud to power its advanced Travel Assist and Car2X live hazard warning systems. On the passenger carrier, a narrow illuminated interactive ID. Light stretches across the dashboard and conveys important safety messages via bright coloured alerts. For example, a signal on the right of the light strip (based on colour) indicates an obstacle to the front right of the ID. Buzz. If the light glows completely red, it’s a warning for the driver to brake.

The ID. Buzz also makes charging more seamless. Clever no-fuss Plug & Charge technology makes on-the-go charging a breeze. Simply plug-in, and the ID. Buzz will talk directly with the charger, with no need for payment apps or charging cards[1]. The ID. Buzz and ID. Buzz Cargo are bi-directional charging ready, meaning you will soon be able to use the ID. Buzz with a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) or vehicle-to-home (V2H) charger to top-up when energy is at its cheapest, before putting that energy back into your home to power household appliances when energy is more expensive – effectively saving you money off your bills.


More modular; more reusable

As you’d imagine with a tile designed to be used in busy public spaces, Pavegen’s tiles have been engineered to be incredibly rugged and sturdy, with a modular design that can be disassembled and re-used in multiple locations.

It’s the same with the ID. Buzz. As part of its ‘Way To Zero’ plan to be climate neutral by 2050, Volkswagen has examined every element of its how it makes its vehicles to reduce waste. As a result, every ID. Buzz leaves the factory with a carbon neutral footprint from the start.

In the same way that Pavegen’s tiles use a triangular modular design that makes them work together more efficiently, the ID. Buzz has smart engineering at its core.

Its modular scalable multi-use platform is perfectly suited to be adapted for use as both a hard-working van and a spacious stylish passenger carrier. Its wheel-on-each-corner design, compact electric motors and low-mounted batteries create short overhangs and a long wheelbase that deliver more space inside, as well as urban-friendly dimensions and a tight 11.1m turning circle.

Volkswagen ID. Buzz Cargo load bay

For the ID. Buzz five-seater, that means a lounge-like interior and up to 1,121 litres of luggage space as standard (three times that of a VW Golf), or up to 2,205 litres with the 40:60-split three-seater rear bench folded away.

The hard-working ID. Buzz Cargo panel van boasts up to 3.9m3 of load volume and a 607kg internal payload, while 2200mm of load length, 1250mm of load height and 1700mm of load width let you carry two Euro pallets transversely. Clever fastening rails and lashing loops keep cargo tied down, while wide-opening barn doors (or an optional tailgate with window) and two sliding side doors make loading a breeze. The optional nifty ‘underload function’ provides an additional 45cm of load length through a channel under the passenger seat – great for awkward longer items.

Throughout the cabin in both versions of the ID. Buzz are a wealth of useful cubbies, shelves, pockets and trays for pens, tools, phones and anything in between, while the handy removable ‘Buzz Box’ between the two front seats houses cup holders and an ice-scraper – or anything else you’d like to put in there.

Finally, just like Pavegen’s tiles, the ID. Buzz has also been designed from the start so that more of its components can be more easily disassembled, reused or recycled once the vehicle leaves the road. This includes the vehicle’s batteries, which were engineered to be more easily removed and given a second life as home or office energy storage.

So, when it comes to capturing our unused energy, both the ID. Buzz and Pavegen aren’t just talking the torque. They’re also walking the walk.

Volkswagen ID. Buzz Cargo

Read more: VW ID. Buzz electric car review
Read more: VW ID. Buzz Cargo electric van review

[1] Plug & Charge requires WeConnect Activation and We Charge Go or We Charge Plus subscription. To use We Connect services, you need a Volkswagen ID user account and must log in to We Connect with your user name and password. A separate We Connect contract or We Connect Plus contract will also need to be made online with Volkswagen AG. For We Connect Plus you have 90 days after the handover of the vehicle to register the vehicle.

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