A 21st century revisit of its original T1 Transporter/Microbus -- informally dubbed the "Bulli" in its home market -- the new Volkswagen Bulli Concept offers a more compact and far-more-affordable vision of the supremely cool but way-too- costly-to-build Microbus Concept that was presented in 2001. In addition to its tasteful neo/retro VW styling cues, this new Bulli offers room for six and retains the same kind of exceptional interior flexibility as its 60-year old predecessor. While a modern electric drive system ensures that this would-be Bulli is far more environmentally friendly, Volkswagen execs admit that the platform also can accommodate 1.0 to 1.4-liter gasoline and diesel engines.
Riding on a 102.0-inch wheelbase, the new Bulli Concept is slightly shorter but lower and wider than the original T1. A familiar two-tone paint scheme more crisply defines its body lines and adds a particularly unique character to the front fascia, which also carries an oversize VW logo. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels further emphasize the Bulli's aggressive stance while four conventional doors afford easy access to both its fore and aft benches, and a large one-piece tailgate eases loading/unloading chores.
Inside, the Bulli's modern minimalist design includes a tidy dash treatment highlighted by a full-width vent system matched with a centrally-mounted removable iPad that provides control of a variety of functions abetted by the switchgear on the multifunction steering wheel. As might be expected, the Bulli Concept also boasts a new Fender-spec premium audio system. In keeping with its character, reconfiguring the accommodations for up to six is a breeze. The passenger portion of the Bulli's 60/40 front seat folds flat, as does the entire rear perch -- which also can be stowed completely to increase total cargo space from 13.1 to 56.5 cu-ft. As a finishing touch, a full-length panoramic glass roof further contributes to the feeling of spaciousness.
Motive force for the VW Bulli Concept is provided by an 85kW (114 horsepower) front-mounted electric motor that makes 199 lb-ft of torque. It drives the front wheels via a single-speed transmission and is fed by a 1,450 Kg (3,200-pound)/40kWh lithium-ion battery pack that's centrally mounted under the floor. Electronically limited to 87 mph and able to reach 62 mph in 11.5 seconds, VW says the Bulli can travel an impressive 186.4 miles on a single charge and that a special "electric refueling station" will be able to trim recharging time to less than an hour.
No word yet on when or if we'll see some from of the Volkswagen Bulli Concept make it to the showrooms, but considering its fundamental cool quotient and VW's ongoing product barrage, a volume-build variant certainly seems well within the realm of possibility.