When Volkswagen unveiled its Bulli concept vehicle last March at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, the response from the press and the public was fairly unanimous: “Build it!” Now, there are rumors that VW is preparing to do just that, and it could hit the U.S. by 2014.
The Bulli was a hit for at least two reasons. For starters, it’s a squared-off multi-purpose vehicle, like countless others littering showrooms these days (e.g. the Kia Soul, Nissan Cube, and Scion xB). However, the Bulli feels a bit bigger and more grown up than some of those MPVs — possibly a competitor with rides like the Ford Flex and a definite option for the young family looking for a hip alternative to the minivan.
But what really turned heads was the Bulli’s styling: sleek and retro with a big greenhouse, reminiscent of the VW buses many folks remember from childhood. (In fact, the Bulli was a riff on the Microbus concept that VW debuted in 2001.) It was also an EV with a range of 185 miles and a recharge time of just one hour.
We can’t vouch for the rumors about the Bulli’s move to the production line, but group design chief Walter de’Silva has some enthusiasm for the idea: “We don’t have a space for another conventional MPV, but this one would be desirable on a different level, combining practicality with the heritage appeal.”
And he’s right: the Bulli would look great sitting alongside VW’s other heavy-hitting heritage model, the new Beetle. Rumors point to production of the Bulli at VW’s facility in Puebla, Mexico — the same plant that produces the Beetle. If that’s true, we could see the MPV in showrooms as part of VW’s 2014 model-year lineup.
But don’t expect the production Bulli to be an EV — at least not yet. Rumors indicate that the road-ready version will have a conventional combustion engine. Either way, we’re looking forward to it.