Volkswagen Bulli (2011) at 2011 Geneva motor showMon, 28 Feb 2011
This is the new VW Bulli, a small electric MPV unveiled on the eve of the 2011 Geneva motor show. 'Bulli' was the German name for the 1950's T1, what the US market called the Microbus, and the new Bulli concept is an evolution of the lovely Microbus concept revealed in 2001. The new concept is smaller than Microbus concept and has an EV powerplant.So what’s is the VW Bulli all about?
It’s an sub-Meriva MPV – it's nearly 300mm shorter than the little Vauxhall people carrier. VW design supremo Walter de Silva told CAR the Bulli is related to the Up family. 'It's wider though and 4m long. There is an intention to launch something like this in the B-MPV segment.' In the metal the VW Bulli has the air of a production car waiting to be green-lighted: seals, switchgear, door hinges are all ready to go and the minders didn't mind us clambering all over it. When the Bulli is launched it’ll be VW’s fifth MPV, and sit alongside the Caddy, Touran, Sharan and Caravelle.
The design is clean, crisp and minimalist, and once again moves VW’s new look another step forward. Cool details abound. The VW badge on the snout is a good 12in tall and the two-tone paint is striking. The interior is clever too, with a sandwich floor construction hiding the battery pack and giving a flat floor – don't expect a leather floor in production however. There's Fiat Multipla-style three-abreast seating, with a bench up front and 60:40 folding rear seats, a panoramic glass roof, and all the infotainment is controlled via an iPad, with a separate for the gear selector.What’s the technology under the skin?
The VW Bulli concept is a front-wheel drive EV, with an 85kW electric motor able to produce 199lb ft, and a lithium-ion battery pack with a 40kWh storage capacity. VW reckons this is enough fro a 186-mile zero-emissions range, 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds and a 88mph (limited) top speed. With a ‘quick charge’ system, replenishing the batteries will take under an hour, too. Range not big enough? VW admits a 1.0 or 1.4-litre engine from its current range will easily fit in the Bulli.
By Tim Pollard