Volkswagen has unveiled a new version of its Microbus concept vehicle at the Geneva Motor Show.
It updates the ‘Microbus’ concept displayed in 2001, which was VW’s first attempt at creating a modern reinterpretation of the classic Type 2. The Microbus’ retro design wowed motor show crowds, but never made it into production.
The latest iteration of the concept is called ‘Bulli’, after an early name given to the original Type 2 Transporter in 1949. It features a six-seater configuration, with two benches, each seating three. At 3.99 metres in length, it’s primarily a people carrier and doesn’t have the space inside to be turned into a California-style kitchen camper. However, the two benches in the ‘Bulli’ fold flat to create a bed, which indicates that VW is not ignoring the Type 2’s storied history as a camper.
The ‘Bulli’ is propelled by an electric motor, good for 113bhp and 192 lb/ft of torque, which is powered by a 40 kWh battery pack concealed in the floor, giving it a claimed range of 186 miles. The concept is also capable of accommodating more workaday 1.0 or 1.4-litre petrol and diesel powerplants.
Our sister magazine Autocar reports from Geneva that the ‘Bulli’ has already been green-lit for production, and will be based on a lengthened version of the current ‘MQB’ platform that underpins the VW Golf – this is a passenger platform rather than a commercial one, raising question marks about the concept’s ability to function as a proper camper, due to payload requirements and so forth.
The ‘Bulli’s minimalist retro interior will need a few tweaks before making production – the lack of a shift lever and tachometer (unnecessary for an electric vehicle) will need to be addressed, and they’ll probably find some way to introduce a centre console, as well – perhaps by cutting the passenger count down to five. The cutting-edge iPad-controlled infotainment system is likely to be ditched as well, although this is one feature we’d love to see in the finished product.