VW Channels Microbus Past in Bulli Concept

In the late 1960s, the Volkswagen brand existed within the culture of peace and love being practiced by baby boomers as they railed against the establishment. Ironically, many member of this carefree crowd have unwittingly become the modern day establishment. Also changing, the Volkswagen brand eventually steered away from value-added vehicles turning to an upscale automobile provide for the United States market. In the case of Volkswagen, the premium price tags as well as some absurdly expensive offerings like the Phaeton flushed away the ideals of their early vehicles. Starting with the latest generation Golf introduced in 2010 and continuing through the show stopping 2011 model year Jetta, the German brand is reconnecting to its roots. Corresponding with the latest revolution for electric vehicles, Volkswagen newest concept vehicle shown at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show marries the best of retro design.

A small urban utility vehicle styled similarly to a Scion xB or xD, the Volkswagen Bulli concept car innovations come within a body featuring design cues from the Type 2 T1 Volkswagen van. Sold through the 1950s up to the 1970s, the classic van went a long way to establish Volkswagen’s identity (second only to the Beetle). Often referred to simply as the Microbus in the United States, the name Bulli (which the Geneva concept vehicle adapts for this theme recreation) identified the forerunner to the modern minivan in Germany.

Reminiscent to the T1 version of the Type 2 van, the Volkswagen Bulli front end, a giant VW crust is worn in the center. Employing a two-tone paint scheme, a red lower section is contrasted by a white higher section converges in a gradual fashion along the forward bodywork. Nothing is traditional about the Bulli’s headlamps as advanced dual beam units feature an L-shaped LED band for daytime running lights.

Admiring the Bulli concept vehicle’s side detail, the keen Volkswagen enthusiast is destined to be reminded of the 15-window models of the classic Deluxe Microbus. Along the side, multiple window surfaces are assembled on the Volkswagen Bulli concept with minimal interference between structural roof pillars. The only major roof pillars are integrated into the rear end. On the small tires, wheel covers styled for the hubcaps found on the classic Volkswagen Microbus.

Trending on design territory many production and concept vehicle have adopted in optimizing interior space, the Volkswagen Bulli cabin provides ample seating for four passengers. Fitted with thin, flat-surfaced bench seats, the large glass panoramic roof rains a gentle helping of natural light into the cockpit. For the driver, the Bulli concept introduces a high-tech interface with colour, multi-function instrument display. In the center of the front panel area, multimedia including a navigation system is controlled through an Apple iPad. Sound system hardware developed through Volkswagen’s new partnership with guitar outfitter Fender completes the exciting Bulli interior.

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Volkswagen sells the Bulli concept structure as being suited for a variety of power source options including the conventional choices of gasoline and diesel fuel. For the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, the Volkswagen Bulli concept was a demonstration piece to a small electric vehicle powertrain. Tucked snugly in the front end, a single 85-kilowatt electric motor muscles the Bulli with 199 pounds-feet of torque. A hefty little green car, Volkswagen Bulli Concept in electric trim features a lithium-ion battery pack consisting of nearly 3,200 pounds. Running a maximum of 186.4 miles on a single charge, the Bulli features an astonishing ability of recharging in less than one hour at the proper “electric refuelling station”.

Displayed as a concept, Volkswagen is not shy to indicate the Bulli concept could be the basis for a production B-segment car. While Volkswagen already produces several minicars for the European market, there is yet to be a North American Volkswagen product smaller than the Golf. A vehicle based on the Volkswagen Bulli would be welcomed addition to an emerging B-segment vehicle marketplace such as the United States.

Information and photo source: Volkswagen AG

  1. They still make the original VW Bus here in Brazil, I came across one the other day with just 40 kms on the clock and the engine was surprisingly silent. I wonder if they change to this new desgn now.

    1. Hi Marcia:

      You're absolutely right about the Volkswagen Bus still being produced in Brazil. The Volkswagen Type 2 also enjoyed extended production runs in Mexico and Argentina.

      However, the particular model built in Brazil is based on the T2 facelift. The Bulli borrows more styling inspiration from the earlier T1 version of the Microbus.

      Thank you for reading.

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