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VW unveils new 'Bulli' bus prototype

The Local · 2 Mar 2011, 12:42

Published: 02 Mar 2011 12:42 GMT+01:00

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The original Transporter 1, dubbed the "Bulli" in Germany and known as the "Microbus" in America, was first built in the 1950s and went on to become one of the most popular car models ever. The VW bus eventually reached icon status as the vehicle of choice for hippies in the 60s and 70s.

With the debut of the new prototype in Geneva, Volkswagen said its goal to rekindle the spirit of the original, like its previous resurrection of the Beetle.

“It is spacious like it was in 1950, it is as inspirational as ever, and it has clean styling like never before,” Volkswagen said in a statement.

But what the new Bulli represents is not just a makeover. Gone are signature features from the original, like panoramic windows, sliding doors and seating for nine. In their place are four conventionally opening doors and seating for just six passengers.


Click here for photos of the new Bulli.

And replacing the old four-cylinder combustion engine is a sleek 85 kW electric motor capable of travelling 300 kilometres on a single battery charge. The motor’s lithium-ion battery pack can be replenished in less than an hour, according to Volkswagen, while a small, range-extending gas and diesel engines are also part of the prototype’s package.

The original model’s iconic circular headlights have also been replaced by slicker dual headlights and LEDs, and rear-wheel power has given way to front-wheel drive.

But perhaps the most decisive step into the 21st century is the iPad-integrated dashboard, including an infotainment system that melds the iPad’s web-based applications with the Bulli’s navigation system, climate control, telephone and sound system.

The new Bulli concept is not the first attempt to revive the legendary bus – but another prototype never made it to the production line after being abandoned a few years ago for being too costly. The new Bulli has more in common with modern compact SUVs and minivans than with the original Microbus.

But one area where the concept car does approximate its predecessor is speed – or lack thereof – with a top speed of 140 kilometres per hour and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in an underwhelming 11.5 seconds.

Nevertheless, the Bulli concept is expected to be a star attraction of this year’s Geneva show, which runs through March 13, since VW has been enticing consumers with the idea of a new Bulli since 2001.

Story continues below…

However, Bulli enthusiasts will need to wait several years to drive one themselves, though, as no timetable for a possible production model has yet been announced.

The Local/adn

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Your comments about this article

19:37 March 2, 2011 by derExDeutsche

Just 2 Things...

1. Where are my peoples going to sleep? It needs a roof mounted sleeper.

2. Where does the stove and the sink go?

Buy a new one of these, and your Ride for 5 years of Widespread Panic and Bob Weir shows is 'Under Warranty', baby;). like, wow.
19:52 March 2, 2011 by marimay
Its really small. It will appeal to those who already drive cars that look like refrigerators on wheels.
00:05 March 3, 2011 by unclesean
This is gonna be pretty hot!

VW does it's thing again!

00:44 March 3, 2011 by Hemiman
By the time this SUV gets to market the battery should be lighter and stronger. I would buy it right now. Might not be like the old Microbus, but it works for our needs today. Bring it on VDub!
00:54 March 3, 2011 by JDee
oh dear, what a mess, days of classic european vehicle design are over :(
01:47 March 3, 2011 by derExDeutsche
on further inspection, it looks suspiciously like a mini cooper on steroids.

the original bus reminds me of my NorCal/Oregon days. the parts I can remember, at least. I hope they don't ruin the nostalgia of the originals.

how in the hell are you supposed to bake pot brownies in that backseat?
09:15 March 3, 2011 by DoubleDTown
I don't see any connection to the original except for the VW logo and the red/white paint job. I agree with derExDeutsche it looks like a Mini Cooper.

I can forgive the no-sliding-doors, but without seating for more than 6 how can it be compared to the old micro-bus? Couldn't they at least squeeze in seating for 7?
10:00 March 3, 2011 by idiot
Space utilization = 0.

What an emberassing fail. With an E-Motor is way more possible then this bad joke.
18:35 March 4, 2011 by gtaglia
Not at all appealing, nothing like the original, electric power is impractical and too expensive. If they would produce something as close to the original as possible, with a modern diesel engine, I'd like to have one.
14:10 March 5, 2011 by cklb
agreed with "gtaglia" - I drove a T2 camper for couple of years and was very happy about its simple design and space. easy to repair and enough space for 4 people. And no fancy i-pad electric crap in it. Just a simple H-type engine. Even so a diesel would have been better in terms of fuel consumption... If I had the money, I would get a T1 or T2 again. But not a "new aggressive style bully" as shown in gueneva...
06:15 March 19, 2011 by gpete
There is another version of the new "Bulli" or micro-bus in Motortrend magazine website- the version there has the side safari windows and is styled much more like the original. I agree this version looks like my Scion xB- (which I like very much!..... I also have a 1970 type 2 bus which I am restoring)
01:52 December 12, 2011 by Surfrat92007
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
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