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March 15, 2011

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The New Bulli by Volkswagen - Comeback of an automotive free spirit

New compact van concept has pure electric drive Original model of the Volkswagen Bulli was first van in the world

Wolfsburg, Germany - The Volkswagen bus, like no other car, stands for the spirit of freedom. It debuted over 60 years ago in 1950 with a contagiously simple design. Its internal Volkswagen code name was T1 for Transporter 1. The Germans called it the Bulli, and to Americans it was the Microbus. It was driven on all continents. And the world’s first van is still appreciated by a fan base which spans the globe. Now Volkswagen is reinterpreting the compact original form of this automotive legend and sending it into the future – in the form of a concept vehicle for a new generation Bulli! It is spacious like it was in 1950, it is as inspirational as ever, and it has clean styling like never before.

In this vehicle, Volkswagen is finishing what it started in 2001: ten years ago, the vision of a new Bulli led to an unforgettable concept vehicle known as the Microbus. But some visions need to mature before they yield something new. Now, the time is right for this vision. That is because the concept was sharpened, and the necessary, sustainable technologies are now at hand. More compact and affordable than the earlier concept vehicle, it is now being shown in Geneva. The new Bulli – powered by an electric motor and fitted with six seats and infotainment control via iPad.

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. 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.

Zero emissions – up to 300 km on a single battery charge

Thanks to highly advanced drive technologies, the Bulli being shown in Geneva is what is referred to as a ‘zero emissions vehicle,’ because the concept is electrically powered. Zero emissions at the tailpipe. The Bulli’s electric motor outputs 85 kW of power and an impressive 270 Newton metres of torque. As is usual with this type of drive, its maximum forces are generated from standstill. The silent motor is supplied with energy from a lithium-ion battery with a maximum storage capacity of 40 kWh. This electrifying combination enables driving ranges of up to 300 km – a high value for an electric car. When the Bulli’s battery is charged at an "electric refuelling station" specially designed for electric vehicles, the charging process takes less than one hour.

The new Bulli accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 11.5 seconds, and its top speed is 140 km/h (electronically limited). Its range and driving performance not only make the compact vehicle ideal for short distances; but also ideal for most commuters and recreational activities with zero tailpipe emissions.

Naturally, the concept can also incorporate Volkswagen’s extremely efficient petrol and diesel direct injection engines as alternative drives. Engines with 1.0 or 1.4 litre displacement that are fuel efficient yet strong; this is downsizing by the book. Ideal for anyone who wants to cover maximum distances with minimal fuel consumption.

Bulli – the idea goes back 64 years

Without the Dutch Volkswagen importer Ben Pon, the T1 might not have existed, and of course neither would the Bulli concept vehicle at Geneva. That is because Pon was the person who on 23 April, 1947, sketched a picture of a compact bus in his notebook. Actually, the Dutchman’s drawing was a simple side view of a radically shortened public omnibus placed over the wheelbase of a Beetle with an "m" for "motor" written on it. That was it. The world’s first van was born. Great ideas usually just take a few strokes of the pen, but then they require a dedicated effort to implement them. Volkswagen designers took this sketch and created the bus that became an automotive icon with the characteristic "V" in front.

The Bulli concept vehicle now follows in the footsteps of the original bus and demonstrates the concept of maximum space utilisation with the characteristic "V" with VW logo at the front end and the cleanest of proportions. In the process, the concept vehicle’s design follows the maxims of the new Volkswagen "design DNA." Retro? Hardly. It is a Volkswagen! The team led by Walter de Silva, Head of Volkswagen Group Design, and Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design of the Volkswagen brand, developed the "design DNA" for the modern era based on styling principles of the bestselling Beetle, Golf I and T1.

Photo: VW

(March 9, 2011)

 


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