There are insider reports that Volkswagen is seriously considering a plan for a conventionally powered version of the Bulli electric MPV concept to go into production. This would be the second strand of a VW heritage range beside the new Beetle. It was the Geneva auto show last March that this car was first presented.
This car, which is inspired by the 1960s Microbus styling, received very good reviews. The Bulli, which seats five people, is a bit bigger overall than a Polo.
It is expected to be slated for production at VW’s plant in Puebla, Mexico, where the third-generation Beetle is built using VW’s latest modular platform.
Production of a Beetle cabrio is also set to begin in this plant early next year. Insiders believe that the Bulli would quickly become a cult car and will have high U.S. sales since the Microbus has a good reputation in this country.
It’s likely that production will begin for the 2014 model year. Group design chief Walter de’Silva said that there’s presently no space for one more conventional MPV but this is expected to have a high appeal as it’s practical but has a rich heritage.
VW bosses think that the company has to work harder to play up its heritage to fend off competition posed by Korean and Chinese automakers. De’Silva thinks that the business case for the Bulli should include its role as adding to VW’s heritage.
In terms of proportion, the Volkswagen Bulli is taller, longer, yet narrower. Specifically, the height is at 1.70 meters, length at 3.99 meters, and width at 1.75 meters. The wheelbase meanwhile measures 2.62 meters, meaning it is able to fully utilize the total length. Relative to the width of the body, the track also has a large width measuring 1.50 meters for both the front and the rear. Starting from the side, it is made more unique with the use of the two-tone paint.
On its side, there is a character line with the whole region above it treated in white. Below this same line meanwhile the region is in red, the same color of the mirror housings that extend from the line of the windows. There is also a white stripe that starts from the wings and flows to the unique D-pillars on top of which is the whole roof section that is also in white. Contrasting these white portions are the continuous lines present on the windows. Much like the 2001 Microbus concept, the black pillars have a lean look to them resulting in a remarkable appearance.
There are other design elements that are noticeable on the sides like the unique wheel housings. The door surfaces that are above the side sills have shape modulation added to it. Its headlights have been wrapped to the sides with the minimum number of seams used, a feature that is not generally seen for this form or even the precision. An interesting feature is that the lithium-ion battery, weighing 1,450 kilograms, is placed at the back of the sills and hidden in the sandwiched floor. Since the white door handles open in the pull direction, it makes it practical. Pleasing to the eyes as well are the alloy 18-inch wheels.
Serving to honor its heritage, in the center of the wheels are the chrome hubcaps. The overhangs that are at the front and the rear of the vehicle are shorter compared to the previous model. As mentioned, the Volkswagen Bulli that was unveiled at Geneva comes with the two-tone white and red paint. This theme is similar to the Samba model before it. The “V” that is placed on the bonnet though is still in white. Inside it is the electric motor which has been placed more forward in its front axle. This is unlike the Samba which is powered by a boxer engine.
In addition, the Bulli has a front-wheel drive compared to the Samba with its rear-wheel drive. The electric motor inside the Bulli is an integral compact drive made up of a DC/DC converter for its 12-volt electrical system, high-voltage pulse inverter and E-motor. In line with the design DNA of Volkswagen the dual headlights are narrow and they follow a horizontal layout. It also has its daytime running lights utilizing LED and shaped like an L.
At each of the outer corners are the turn indicators which also use LEDs but have been shaped as an inverted L instead. By having the LEDs, the lights are not only guaranteed of long life and strong luminous power, it is ideal for the electric 2011 Bulli as energy consumption is kept low. The bonnet is in the middle of these headlights where the VW logo has been placed. Under the bonnet are the air intakes for its passenger compartment which has also been organized in a horizontal line.
These intakes help cool the batteries or any other alternative standard drives. Rounding off the design is the bumper that has been integrated effortlessly to the front end. Horizontally, each side has those round and large fog lights. In the middle of it is another air intake and under it is the black front spoiler. This particular line complements the lines that are on the side sills.