Volkswagen Bulli Microbus Concept will enter production

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 10, 2011

Volkswagen said that its Microbus concept called Bulli, which was shown at the recently held Geneva Auto Show, is built on the “MDS [modular design system] platform,” according to R&D boss Ulrich Hackenberg who spoked with Autocar. Referred to as the MQB, Volkswagen’s flexible new underpinnings will first appear in the third-generation Audi A3 before it will be used by a variety of VW Group models, such as the compact six-seat MPV, the Microbus.

MDS’s wheelbase and track widths can be varied, meaning that there could be different versions of the Microbus that make it feasible for the various markets. In the US, the MDS will be used on the XB that’s built by Toyota’s youth brand, Scion.

Hackenberg denied reports that the retro-inspired MPV will be built in Chattanooga, North America, which is also where the new global Passat is produced. Chances are, it will be assembled along with the Beetle in Puebla, Mexico.

The new Volkswagen Bulli microbus concept features a length of 3.99 meters, width of 1.75 meters, height of 1.70 meters, and wheelbase of 2.62 meters. This makes the T1 longer and taller, yet narrower.

Moreover, the Bulli features large track widths (1.50 meters on the front and the rear) relative to its body width. The front fascia of the Bulli in display in Geneva features a two-tone paint -- white and red, with the "V" on the bonnet painted in white. While the Samba is a rear-wheel-drive microbus powered by a boxer engine, the Bulli is a front-wheel drive model with an electric motor located forward of the front axle, just housed under the bonnet. Also placed under the bonnet is a compact integral drive that is made of an E-motor, high-voltage pulse inverter and a DC/DC converter for the 12-Volt electrical system.

In adherence to VW’s design genes, the Bulli features narrow dual headlights with L-shaped LED daytime running lights and turn indicators arranged in a horizontal layout. It also features LEDs at each outer corner -- arranged in an inverted L shape. These LEDs are perfect for the Bulli since they are not only very luminous and enduring, but also consume as little energy as possible. The front end of the Bulli is already marked by the VW logo placed between the headlights in the bonnet.

Underneath are horizontally placed air intakes for cooling the passenger compartment, the battery cooling and the alternative conventional drives. Moreover, the front end features an integrated bumper that accommodates another air intake in the center with black front spoiler below.

These elements are flanked by the large round fog lights on the sides. On the other hand, the sides of the new VW Bulli are distinguished by a two-tone paint. The area above the character line is finished in white. A white stripe starts from the wings and flows to the D-pillars with the entire roof section also painted in white. The seemingly continuous windows – thanks to sleek black pillars styled like that on the 2001 Microbus concept -- provide a stunning contrast just between the white sections.

Meanwhile, the door mirror housings that protrude from the line of windows are finished in red. On the other hand, the entire area below the character line is painted in red. The sides of the Bulli are marked by a number of distinctive design elements like unique wheel housings, headlights wrapping around from the front to the sides and shape modulations in the door surfaces just above the side sills. Accommodating the lithium-ion battery is the sandwiched floor located just behind the sills.

Completing the sides of the Bulli are practical white door handles and 18-inch alloy wheels featuring stylized chrome hubcaps. Easily noticeable on the sides are short front and rear overhangs. At the rear, the Bulli still adheres to VW’s design DNA, as horizontal lines dominates in posterior end.

Its rear is marked by a body-colored bumper, a black stylized diffuser and a tailgate extending across the entire width of the Bulli. Interestingly, the tailgate features narrow LED rear lights sporting a theme inspired by the 2001 Microbus concept. The VW logo -- smaller than at the front end – is mounted on the center of tailgate, which in turn reveals a 370-liter cargo room even when all six seating locations are filled.

Topics: vw, minivan, production

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