The NEW Volkswagen Bulli - VW MiniBus

The Bus is Back

February 28, 2011

Note: This is a concept car.

Back in 2001 Volkswagen introduced a concept van called Bulli. Actually, if you want to get right down to it this is not a new name. In Germany the original 1949 transporter was also called Bulli.

This one is quite a departure from the old slab sided van though. For one it's all electric; or can be. For another it will use an iPad as the entertainment and navigation system.

And, personally, I really like the way it looks. Maybe you will too.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bulli (front view)Old Bulli
Bulli (front view)
Bulli (front view) | Source
Old Bulli
Old Bulli | Source

What's Old is New Again

The new Bulli is vaguely reminiscent of the old VW Van. Yes, its slab-sided like it's older sibling,  but it's wider and shorter than the original.  Beyond the name its all high-tech though.

It will have an all electric power-train, no axillary engine like the Prius or Insight. Or at least, you can order it one way or the other, if it makes it into production that is.

Volkswagen says it will have a one hundred eighty-six (186) mile (300km) range and it can be recharged in an hour. That's pretty good frankly as the Nissan Leaf can only reach 80% charge on that same hour.

VW will also offer a fuel model with a small one point four liter engine.

It is one hundred fifty-seven (157") inches long making it shorter than Mini’s new Countryman at 161 inches long or the Scion xB at 167.3 inches. Despite that the Bulli has fifty-six cubic feet of cargo space compared to the Countryman's forty-one.

VW has kept the controls very simple with a rotary switch (for gear selection) and a over-sized speedometer.

Differences with the Older Van
The new Bulli will not have sliding doors, but instead four conventionally opening doors. Where the original Bulli could seat nine the new model will seat six. If it makes it to production it can be ordered with a huge sliding roof. (see fifth picture below)

The large VW symbol has also been reduced in size.

Bulli Specifications

Powertrain
The all electric Bulli will come with an eighty-eight kiloWatt (88kW) electric motor producing 200 foot pounds of torque. The battery pack will store forty (40kWh) kiloWatt hours of charge. Compare that to the Nissan Leaf which stores twenty-four kiloWatt hours.

The top speed is estimated to be eighty-seven miles per hour and it will go from zero to one hundred kilometers an hour (62mph) in just over eleven seconds. Not terribly fast, but faster than the original Bulli.

Interior
The Bulli concept has a two bench seats front and rear. The sound system is by Fender and will be controlled by a removable iPad in the center console. This will also control a hands-free Bluetooth enabled telephone as well as a navigation system and the climate control. There's no word if the iPad comes with the Bulli or has to be consumer supplied.

The seating system can be converted into large reclined surfaces with a few simple manual controls.

Finally, there is a distinctive flatness to the floor; no hump. You can see this in picture three below.

Controls
The Bulli will not have a traditional shifter, but rather a rotary switch for putting the vehicle in forward or reverse. The hybrid model may have a shifter.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bulli (front view)Bulli (rear view)Bulli (interior from driver position)Bulli (interior through front window)Bulli (overhead view)
Bulli (front view)
Bulli (front view) | Source
Bulli (rear view)
Bulli (rear view) | Source
Bulli (interior from driver position)
Bulli (interior from driver position) | Source
Bulli (interior through front window)
Bulli (interior through front window) | Source
Bulli (overhead view)
Bulli (overhead view) | Source

Coda

Despite this being advertised as a concept car both Volkswagen and industry watchers feel that the chances of this showing up on a dealership lot are pretty good.

I personally like the styling and the fact that Volkswagen has not lagged behind on the hybrid or all electric vehicle idea.

I'll be keeping a look out for more news on this vehicle and write follow-up articles on the Bulli as new comes available.

Disclaimer

The author was not compensated in any way, monetarily, with discounts, or freebies by any of the companies mentioned.

Though the author does make a small profit for the word count of this article none of that comes directly from the manufacturers mentioned. The author also stands to make a small profit from advertising attached to this article.

The author has no control over either the advertising or the contents of those ads.

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