March 1, 2011

El VW Bulli


Hell hath no fury like a VW Microbus fan scorned.

Ten years after the first perfect one, which was unceremoniously killed, VW has unveiled yet another Microbus revival concept. Only this time it's for real, or whatever. It's supposed to be an all-electric 6-passenger people mover the size of a Scion xB, small where the original was huge. As Jerry Garrett puts it in the Times,

In essence, the Bulli appears to be almost everything the Microbus was not -- except that Volkswagen asserts it is.

No timetable or price for a possible production model have been mentioned.

Why anyone would believe any of the vagaries VW says about the Microbus, or why anyone would trust a company whose current US minivan strategy is to leave every remotely interesting people mover offshore, and instead slap a VW logo on the nose of a Chrysler, is beyond me.

My ass will be ready for VW to come kissing it when and if they actually have a real Microbus to sell me.

UPDATE HAH. Autoblog has candid pics from Geneva, and there is no way it seats three across the front. Dubious whether it'll sit three across the back, even. And to add insult to Kombi injury, there's a non-functioning, rear-facing third row seat, just for show. Bullishit, indeed. On the bright side, glass roof!

Geneva Auto Show: Volkswagen Bulli Concept [nyt]
Previously: "So we had this idea [and then we killed it]" the 2001 VW Microbus Video


Family Fail! Seating for 6 in 2 rows? While I miss a front bench as much as the next guy it's death was brought on in part by consumer tastes but primarily by regulations that prohibit kids from sitting up front. The layout of this concept is perfect for the 3 adult/3 child family with no car seats, strollers or luggage.

Here's the German minivan we need:
I rode in some of these this past summer and they are the bomb. The only problem is the price, although they could probably be sold in the same price range as the upscale Sienna/ Odyssey models.
Plus great mileage with the diesel/manual combination, which, of course will never, never, never, never be sold here.

@jdaddyo: They should bring this over as a reboot for the R Class. Would need to lux up the interior a bit but then they'd have no problem getting well above Odyssey/Sienna prices. The R Class may beat this van dynamically but it doesn't match it's practicality. And let's be honest, most R Class buyers are looking for practicality.

As the owner of a 75 VW Bus, I completely reject the idea that the Bulli comes close to being a bus revival.

The Bulli doesn't look anything like a bus. It's essentially a minivan. The interior is extremely compact, whereas buses are very roomy.

I'm glad other people are noticing this and not just getting carried away because there are two-tone VW vehicles again.

I hate to be "one of those" people, but I'm very disappointed in VW. If they had any clue what people were paying for restored Bay Window Westfalia campers or Vanagon Westfalia campers, they'd realize there is a viable market for new buses.

Are we talking about the same VW that brought back their most famous car, one of the most significant and recognizable human artifacts ever produced, as a tarted up Golf aimed at old people and sorority girls? That VW?

I just can't imagine why they would put a two tone paint package and giant badge on a Golf-based people mover and say it's the return of their second most iconic vehicle. Oh wait, yes I do.

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