VW Bulli concept: A “Bulli” we like

2 Mar 2011 | 2,617 views | No Comment
Looking for something way cool? We at Automobile Journal have been hearing rumors that Volkswagen was about to bring back its beloved Microbus van that was a rolling icon of the days of flower chidren, hippies and Janis Joplin. Now we have evidence, courtesy of the Geneva International Auto Show and VW, that the rumor is likely true. VW is displayng the Bulli, a retro flavored, yet utterly contemporary van concept  that will bring back memories for a lot of babyboomers-- and ptoetntially launch new memories for coming generations.  Analysts now say that VW will launch a van very much like the Bulli in its lineup soon.      VW had, in fact, launched a icrobus concept almoswt identical to the Bulli back in 2001, but many auto writers felt let down because a decision was made not to build it. But VW offricials have now apparently changed their minds.      A news release says, "In this vehicle, Volkswagen is finishing what it started in 2001: ten years ago, the vision of a new Bulli led to an unforgettable concept vehicle known as the Microbus. But some visions need to mature before they yield something new," The release adds, "Now, the time is right for this vision. That is because the concept was sharpened, and the necessary, sustainable technologies are now at hand. More compact and affordable than the earlier concept vehicle, it is now being shown in Geneva. The new Bulli – powered by an electric motor and fitted with six seats and infotainment control via iPad."      VW believes that the Bulli " has the potential to establish a new, fifth brand of people carrier next to the Caddy, Touran, Sharan and its large counterpart – the Caravelle. The Bulli could even become an icon like the T1 Samba that still trades at extremely high prices today – one of those few vehicles that simply do not fade with time."       The Bulli sounds like a good idea to us. If VW is to become the largest car maker in the world--and it gives every indeication of wishing to do just that, including ttripling U.S. sales by 2018---it will need a huge lineup that includes not only mainstream products, but lots of niche products that an bring personality, interest and buzz, not to mention customers, into its showrooms.     It's also a good idea because VW's current van entry, the Routan, based on Chrysler's minivans, isn[t exactly setting the sales world on fire. Too, the arrival of a Bulli-like van will bring much needed individuality and personality to the minivan market. Inside, the Bulli will be comfortingly familiar to a lot of people. Up front it has a single bench seat like the old Microbus, and the interior is designed to have a lot of flexibiity and lots of possible re-arrangement of seating, including large, flat spaces that turn it into a camper.     But retro isn't the whole story with the Bulli. It has tech savvy features like a navigation system, Bluetooth hands-free phone, a removable iPad, and other Internet based functions. Power comes from an electric motor--a 3,200 poun d lithium ion battery that has a driving range of 186.4 miles. But VW say that it can also easily accommodate the company's extensive line of gas and diesel direct-injection powerplants.   Given that electric powered vheicles carry pretty steep price tags, we think that conventional powerplants might make mkore sense in drawing families and others that may not be able to afford electric-powered products right now. If VW is smart enough to build it, it could do precisely what the New Beetle did when it was introduced--bring long lines, short supplies and plenty of notoriety to the VW brand.

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