There are very few vehicles so instantly recognisable world-wide as Volkswagen’s iconic VW microbus. But while examples of the rear-engined classic have unofficially been receiving electric drivetrain transplants for decades courtesy of electric vehicle devotees, we haven’t seen an official concept combining the two ideas.
But at this week’s 2011 Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen did just that with its VW Bulli concept, combining an all-electric drivetrain with a modern re-imagining of the Microbus concept so pivotal to the plot-lines of Scooby Doo.
Based around the 2011 Microbus concept vehicle VW first presented at the 2001 Detroit Auto Show, the 2011 Bulli features none of the sliding doors or bay windows of the 1950s classic Microbus.
Also gone is the simple speedometer and gauges of the original VW. In its place a more conventional modern speedometer lies but it is the information screen to the right of the driver which attracts the most attention: a fully integrated, iPad cradle.
When docked, Apple’s popular iPad provides easy access to the car’s climate control and entertainment systems and can be removed when leaving the vehicle.
The new Bulli concept features seating for six passengers and room for luggage. Top speed is limited to 87 miles per hour, and 0-62 is reached in around 11.5 seconds thanks to an 85 kilowatt motor.
By modern standards the Bulli’s performance is hardly anything to get excited about, but as anyone who has driven a Type 2 Microbus will tell you, it is a huge improvement on the 1950s classic.
With a recharge time of an hour and a claimed 185 miles from a floor-mounted lithium ion pack the Bulli starts to sound too good to be true.
You’d be right: as Volkswagen are keen to point out, the Bulli is only a concept. As our own
Nelson Ireson pointed out last week, this means it becomes much easier to make impressive claims about the concept’s performance.
While the Bulli is not expected to ever enter production, we’re rather fond of its retro-looks, integrated iPad dashboard and long-legged range claims.
VW hinted that it may enter production one day, but expect it to feature a more conventional gasoline engine if and when the VW Microbus gets reborn.
In the meantime, we’re afraid if you want the charms of an electric VW Microbus you’ll have source a classic model to convert, or import one of the Mexican-made Microbuses still in production.