Thursday, March 3, 2011
What is it? The Microbus-inspired Bulli concept will be part of a subfamily of more distinctive VW's that will include the new Beetle, out next June, and the baby Up! hatchback due in the fall. These new cars will be more youthful and have more of a sports feel and visual character, but without losing the core functionality of the brand.
What makes it hot? The all-electric Bulli has a range of 186 miles on its 40-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. The battery pack is sandwiched in the floor of the van and could be recharged in less than an hour, according to VW, at an "electric refueling station" designed for electric vehicles. Unlike the original Microbus, the concept's electric motor is positioned in front of the vehicle and drives the front wheels. The 114-horsepower motor delivers 199 lb-ft of torque. VW says the concept would run from zero to 62 mph in 11.5 seconds. Top speed is limited to 87 mph.
What concerns us? VW has long struggled to invest its models with the emotional character of the original Beetle. The Bulli concept signals the start of a campaign to reinvigorate this critical strand of the Volkswagen DNA. A good idea? Only time will tell.
When and how much? Yet to be determined.
Our verdict? A generation of baby boomers with fond memories of the old VW Microbus will undoubtedly say, "Build it and we will buy it." And the fact that it is electric should have cross-generational appeal with similarly minded eco-conscious youngsters. Not a bad combination.