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by Tim Beissmann

Volkswagen has released the first details and computer-generated images of the all-new Volkswagen Bulli Concept just hours before its unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show, which kicks off later today.

The Bulli Concept comes 10 years after the unveiling of the similarly styled Volkswagen Microbus concept.

The Microbus drew massive attention at the 2001 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and is one of the few concept vehicles that people still talk about today.

Late last year, Volkswagen design chief Klaus Bischoff admitted that financial issues – and not a lack of public interest – were behind the decision not to develop the 2001 Kombi beyond concept stage.

The CGIs of the 2011 Volkswagen Bulli Concept suggest it is closer to a production design than the Microbus ever was.

Volkswagen is fanning the flames on the Bulli’s potential:

“This concept has the potential to establish a new, fifth brand of people carrier next to the Caddy, Touran, Sharan and its large counterpart, the Caravelle,” Volkswagen said in a release.

“The Bulli could even become an icon like the T1 Samba that still trades at extremely high prices today – one of those few vehicles that simply do not fade with time.”

The Bulli Concept 3.96m long, 1.74m wide and 1.68m tall with a 2.59m wheelbase. The dimensions are a far removed from the VW vans of the past, but a number of elements have been carried over.

Like the T1, the Bulli has a flat floor and a three-seat bench in the front. There is also room for three in the second row. With the rear seats up there is 370 litres of luggage space in the boot, and that expands to 1600 litres with the rear bench folded flat.

One feature you’re not likely to find on many Kombis, however, is a removable iPad. The centre console-mounted touchscreen display controls all the vehicle’s media, including audio, phone and navigation systems.

Unlike Volkswagen vans of yesterday, the Bulli has a bonnet, albeit a small one, meaning the driver doesn’t sit with their nose up against a flat windscreen.

Like the old Kombi, you won’t find a petrol engine up the front. In fact, you won’t find a petrol engine in the back either, because the Bulli Concept is 100 percent electric.

It’s powered by a lithium-ion battery pack which drives an 85kW/270Nm electric motor. Driving range is 300km, accelerating from 0-100km/h takes 11.5 seconds and the top speed is electronically limited to 140km/h.

Volkswagen says the Bulli’s layout has also been designed to incorporate the brand’s 1.0- and 1.4-litre direct-injection turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, in another nod towards a potential production version.

The Bulli features the next generation of Volkswagen design, drawing inspiration from current and future models, as well as harking back to the past in some crucial elements.

The front and rear L-shaped LED lights remind of the Golf R, the horizontal lines follow the current design language of all Volkswagen vehicles, the overall van shape and rounded wheel-arches are similar to the upcoming Up, and the two-tone paint and squared-off V on the bonnet is a modern interpretation of the classic V-front T1 Kombis.

CarAdvice will bring you in-the-metal images of the Volkswagen Bulli Concept in the coming hours as it makes its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show.




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