Who could represent the new Volkswagen icon ID. Buzz more passionately than a world-famous Bulli fan?
The Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, known from Blockbusters as “Star Wars” and acclaimed movies like “Trainspotting” or “Moulin Rouge”, is the new brand ambassador of Volkswagen.
The Hollywood star has always been a huge Volkswagen fan and even washed dishes as a teenager in a hotel to buy his first beetle. And – he owns a precious classic car collection! On a recent trip to Wolfsburg and Hanover he had the chance for a look behind the scenes of the Volkswagen factory and the production of the new ID. Buzz.
Here he talks about what really drives him and why e-mobility is a must for the future.
Ewan, you had the chance for a behind-the-scenes view of the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg and the production of the new Volkswagen icon, the ID. Buzz, in Hanover. What impressed you the most?
It was a big day for me, because I have been a Volkswagen enthusiast for all my life.
Since I had my first Volkswagen, when I was 16 years old. And I have collected them ever since. So, to be in the factory where my 1954 beautiful Beetle was made and to see all these impressive factory buildings in Wolfsburg was really special to me.
Then heading to Hanover to see where the busses and the commercial vehicles have been made – it was just so exciting!
There I was able to watch the actual production line and see the ID. Buzz being actually made. Starting with the bare metal bodies... to see and meet some of the employees, to watch the robots was just amazing. I was like a kid in a candy store.
Your love for the brand Volkswagen started early in your life. You worked as a teenager in a hotel kitchen to save money for your first Beetle, correct?
I started working on the weekends when I was 14 years old: I washed dishes in the “Murraypark Hotel” in Crieff.
I saved 500 Pounds working for two years. Then my dad and I looked though the papers and I finally found my first car.
I can’t remember if we looked for a Beetle, or if it was the only car I could afford. But it changed my life.
When you are 16 and you get our first car, that feeling of driving and independence is just the best.
And I really loved my Beetle but needed to wait a bit before I was allowed to drive it.
I tried to find it years later, because I had to sell it when I went to drama school to pay for my education as an actor.
Ewan McGregor visiting the Oldtimer workshop in Hanover, where he took a closer look at a Volkswagen T2a camper
Unfortunately you had to sell your beetle – but it was probably a good investment in your future career …
Oh yeah! But after some time I wanted my beloved car back. I tried to find it … But unfortunately I could not find it as it was last registered in the early nineties. Sadly, I think it probably just disappeared.
Nowadays you have a huge passion for classic cars and own an exquisite collection. Some of them from Volkswagen – how many exactly?
I have three Beetles. And one transporter – a single cab. I also bought a panel van in England which is a left-hand drive and I have that being rebuild by a friend of mine with the original paint.
And your blue Volkswagen 1954 Beetle is even electric! Share with us, why you decided the electric transformation?
I drove some electric cars and I liked the way they drive – the power delivery comes in immediately. That really fascinated me on my long trips with my friend on our electric motorcycles. And finally I heard of a company called EV West in San Diego who converts classic cars into electric vehicles. My most beloved car is my oval 54 Volkswagen Beetle and I just thought I will use it more if it was electric. And I was right, I use it all the time in the traffic in L.A. I just love it … and now I can hear my passengers all the time when they are talking – before it was pretty loud. And of course, going electric is the right way as I had just installed a solar power electric system in my new house.
I drove some electric cars and I liked the way they drive – the power delivery comes in immediately. That really fascinated me on my long trips with my friend on our electric motorcycles.
You have five children – how much do you worry about the pollution on our beautiful planet? And how sustainable is your own lifestyle?
There is unfortunately a lot of pollution on our beautiful planet … and I do think about my kids’ future. And the future of their children. Honestly you just want to do the best you can for the world. I am not an activist, but I always had my eyes and ears open and try to learn, what you can do and needs to be done for the planet. I do what I can in my small way. So I have lots of solar power in my house and collect it in house batteries. I just run larger electrical things like washing machines during the day, so I know it is coming straight from the sun. I charge my electric car, my 1954 Beetle, during the day, when the sun is stronger from a solar panel. I have a well in my house where I draw the water up using electric solar power and I use that to irrigate my landscaping. It is a brilliant zero emission system and that makes me really happy too!
Ewan, when did your love of Volkswagen start?
It is in my blood since I was a kid. Even before that. My parents drove a Volkswagen Beetle through the seventies. And we did these long journeys – we would drive from Scotland to Brittaney in France every year to camp in the little town called Carnac. My parents would load us in the Volkswagen Beetle at night in our pyjamas. And we would drive overnight so we would sleep and then we would get on the ferry. It is probably the time when my real love affair with that car started. Then later got my first transporter, my first split screen Type 2 when I moved to California. I just love the brand so much. Me and my friend Charlie on our tours would always talk that we are van men, when we were riding our motorcycles. We needed Volkswagen vans to move the bikes sometimes around. I always liked the Volkswagen Cargo vans too.
In Hanover you were able to configure your own ID. Buzz
I can share with you that it will be orange. Generally I think the ID. Buzz is a practical, safe but really fun vehicle. You don’t experience this so often with new cars. The ID. Buzz has really got character. That is unusual for a new car and it puts a smile on my face. It is very cheerful on the outside and on the inside. I think it is a really happy car.
Where will you take your happy ID. Buzz on your first trip?
I will probably go up the coastline. I live in California – so I will maybe just head up the Pacific Coast Highway – it’s a great road that goes all the way to San Francisco and beyond.
( CEO of the Volkswagen brand Ralf Brandstätter and Ewan McGregor enjoy the great view on top of the brand tower in Wolfsburg )
The ID. Buzz has really got character. That is unusual for a new car and it puts a smile on my face. It is very cheerful on the outside and on the inside. I think it is a really happy car.
If you could pick four people dead or alive – famous or not – to accompany you on your first trip with the ID. Buzz01, who would it be?
Jimmy Stewart was my favourite actor. I would pick him together with the comedian Billy Connolly – that could be a good mix. And the actress Lou Gish, she passed away, I had a play with her in London and I miss her. The fourth could be Sigourney Weaver … she is a great actress, why not?
You really enjoy driving: and you had been around the world with your motorcycle. What means driving to you?
It is a sort of meditation for me. There is something very satisfying going from point A to point B. You never know what will happen, who you will meet. It is very pleasing somehow this nomadic way of life. That’s why I like old cars and bikes because you never know if they gonna make it or not … or if they break down. I like the fun of driving.
You love cars and a good adventure. Please give us more details about your classic car collection and how many Volkswagen you own?
I have five Volkswagens and a 1937 Wolseley. One of the cars Winston Churchill really loved. This one came from the Movie “Christopher Robin” I made. And I own a 1960 Silver Cloud II Rolls-Royce. I like to drive it in L.A. And I have some Rat Rods – quite silly cars, but fun and a big Off-Road vehicle.
Would you ever sell them?
Yes … when I get a new one I like to sell another one. Some of them I can never sell. The oval window beetle from 1954 I will always keep.
Is it only you driving your antique cars?
Actually I am the only person that does drive them. Not that I would not allow them … but most of them are stick shift and nobody drives stick in my family.
And what drives you in real life?
My passion for my career. My family and fun and happiness.
By the way – if you would be a car, what would you be?
(laughing) … I think a beetle. In the museum in the Autostadt in Wolfsburg I had the chance to look at one of the first Ferdinand Porsche Beetles. In that moment I just realized, that I love this car more than any other car. I love the shape of it. Just everything about it.