VW is revealing a new concept for a modern version of its eponymous Microbus at Geneva. The concept (shown below) is an electric vehicle with a 300km range and can hit 100kmh in 11.5 seconds. Apparently, Volkswagen is going to be putting a similar car into production, but it is not clear if it will be all electric, like this concept, or whether it will have one of VW’s frugal petrol or diesel 1 to 1.4 liter engines.
I think they would do well to get the styling a bit closer to the original just for the simple reason that it is such an iconic shape. The other thing that I think could do with some work would be the name – “Bulli”. Autocar says that this is the name that the original “Transporter” was given in some markets when it was launched in the 1950s. I am guessing that a German product called a “Bulli” would not have enjoyed a lot of popularity just after the Second World War, so I suspect they changed it to something a little more sanitized for the English-speaking world at this point. The War is a couple of generations ago now, but hopefully some focus groups will be able to help VW pick something a little more friendly.
Ever since the New Beetle and “BMW” Mini came along in the late 90s, I have wondered why VW did not do a similar job with their own Microbus. After all, if there is any car class that is crying out for a bit of style, it is the minivan segment. So it is not surprising to me that they have finally come around to it.
Not that VW’s slowness has stopped Japanese companies customizing kei (light) vans in Japan to look like the classic Volkswagen. They tend to be based on Suzuki Every vans from the early 2000s, like this one below coming up at auction in Japan on March 5th, 2011:
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