VW Brings Back Its Iconic Race Support Vans, This Time As EVs

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Normally, a van wouldn’t be your first thought for racing. They’re big, their center of gravity isn’t low, and they tend to not be very fast except perhaps in straight lines. There are some notable exceptions to this rule, but in general, few think of vans when they think of hitting the pavement and racing, especially in races where you’d find a Porsche competing.

But not all racing vehicles are competing on the track, and Porsche has long had some very important vans on the team. After gathering a cult following for over five decades, the iconic dark red VW buses that supported Porsche’s racing team in the 1950s to 1970s are making a comeback. Porsche Deutschland and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles have revived this tradition by utilizing the latest technology: the fully electric ID. Buzz will now serve as the base for these race service–inspired vehicles.

Fans of the legendary Renndienst buses that supported Porsche’s racing teams in the past can now look forward to a modern reincarnation. Based on Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ fully electric ID. Buzz, the new Renndienst bus features a retro look, complete with the iconic “Renndienst” lettering. Inspired by the original Volkswagen bus, the high-performance and sustainable Renndienst ID. Buzz is designed to handle day-to-day work both on and off the track.

“The history surrounding the T1 and T2 Porsche Renndienst buses is unique. Like the Porsche race cars they accompanied, the red buses also achieved cult status,” said Lars Krause, Member of the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Board of Management for Sales and Marketing. “We are building on this and reviving the partnership in a very contemporary way: still dark red, but now also noticeably quiet — because they are electric, with the ID. Buzz as a basis.”

The new Renndienst ID. Buzz electric buses have already hit the racetrack, making their debut appearance at the first race of the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany in Spa-Francorchamps. These iconic buses were critical to the success of Porsche’s racing teams in the past, and now, the new electric version is set to continue the legacy. The ID. Buzz is a high-performance commercial vehicle designed for both on and off-track use, making it an ideal choice for Porsche.

The first Renndienst bus was used by Porsche’s works team at the Mille Miglia way back in 1954. As Porsche struggled to find a suitable vehicle for transporting tools and spare parts, the team hit upon the idea of converting a VW bus. The first Renndienst bus was based on a T1, and numerous others followed in the 1950s to 1970s, all based on the VW Transporter (T1 and T2). These reliable vans were used not only as mobile service stations but also as temporary accommodation for engineers and other team members. The legacy of these iconic buses continues today with the electric Renndienst ID. Buzz, which made its debut appearance at the first race of the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany in Spa-Francorchamps.

The dark red paintwork of the Renndienst buses was not only stylish but also functional. While Porsche’s 904, 908, 910, and 917 cars took the headlines, the VW buses played an essential role in supporting the works team. Today, some surviving Renndienst buses are displayed in museums or stored in the garages of Porsche collectors, adding to their historical significance. With the introduction of the new electric Renndienst ID. Buzz, it is possible that these modern versions will also become collector’s items in the future.

The Porsche Carrera Cup Germany will take place across four different European countries in the 2023 season, with the series kicking off alongside the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. The Festival of Dreams at the Hockenheimring in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, is another highlight of the season. Porsche Deutschland is celebrating the 75th anniversary of Porsche sports cars with the festival, which offers a varied program throughout the weekend. Visitors can follow the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany, the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux, and the ADAC GT Masters live from the Hockenheimring grandstand. The festival will open on Saturday, June 10th, at 9:11 a.m.

Why This Matters: It’s Part of a Larger Commercial Effort

While the average ID. Buzz owner might not be hauling around racing parts and repair crews, using these vehicles for Porsche’s racing crews is important to show how useful these latest EVs are for businesses and families of all kinds and with all needs.

So, this is a literal example of “Race on Sunday; sell on Monday!”

With their iconic Bulli and other model lines, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) is a leading manufacturer of light commercial vehicles, reshaping the transportation of goods, services, and people in a fundamental and lasting way. From transporting construction workers, families, and adventurers to operating as mobile workshops and bringing emergency personnel to wherever they are needed, VWCV’s vehicles help countless people all over the world to do their job every day.

With around 24,000 employees at sites in Hanover (D), Poznań (PL), Września (PL), and Pacheco (ARG), VWCV produces the Transporter, new Multivan, Caddy, Crafter, and Amarok model lines, and the fully electric ID. Buzz, their latest addition since May 2022. VW is also the lead brand for autonomous driving and mobility offerings such as Mobility-as-a-Service Transport-as-a-Service within Volkswagen Group.

VWCV is committed to shaping the future of mobility by providing clean, intelligent, and sustainable solutions to meet society’s evolving needs. Their brand promise, “We transport success, freedom, and the future,” speaks to their dedication to this vision.

Another thing that makes this racing effort important to Volkswagen Group is that it lets the compant test the vehicles in an environment similar to what commercial users and families face every day. This lets them figure out how to improve their vehicles over time, both for year-to-year changes and for future models and subsequent generations of existing models. So, it’s not just sales they get out of these highly-visible efforts, but also important and candid in-house feedback that helps improve the future of the company’s EV offerings.

Between these two advantages (sales and improvement), the chance for VW to remain an EV player long into the future becomes a little more secure.

Images provided by Porsche.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1994 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba