Press Release) Comeback of an automotive free spirit:
World debut of new Bulli by Volkswagen in Geneva
• New compact van
concept has pure electric drive
• Original model of the Volkswagen Bulli was first van in the
February 2011 - 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
Bulli – the idea goes back 64
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.
Design – visual world of a
The new edition of the
Bulli is 3.99 metres long, 1.75 metres wide and 1.70 metres tall.
The T1 was somewhat longer and taller, but narrower. With a
wheelbase of 2.62 metres, the Bulli utilises the overall length very
well. Also striking here are the Bulli’s relatively large track
widths (1.50 m front and rear) in relation to body width.
Front end: Like the Samba bus before it, the Bulli being presented
in Geneva also has two-tone paint – in this case white and red. The
"V" on the bonnet, is kept white. The bonnet does house the engine:
instead of rear-wheel drive with a boxer engine, as on the Samba,
the Bulli has an electric motor located forward of the front axle
and front-wheel drive. Here it is a compact integral drive whose
primary components are an E-motor, high-voltage pulse inverter and
DC/DC converter for the 12-Volt electrical system.
In keeping with the Volkswagen design DNA, there is a horizontal
layout of the narrow dual headlights with L-shaped LED daytime
running lights and turn indicators implemented as LEDs arranged in
an inverted L shape at each outer corner. Incidentally, LEDs not
only exhibit tremendous luminous power and long life; due to their
low energy consumption they are ideal for the electrically powered
Bulli of 2011. Located between the headlights in the bonnet is, as
always, the VW logo. On the level beneath, one finds – once again
arranged in a horizontal line – the air intakes for the passenger
compartment and for battery cooling or for cooling the alternative
Finally, the bumper that is seamlessly integrated in the front end
completes the design. Laterally, it exhibits a large round fog light
on each side, another air intake in the middle, and a front spoiler
in black below. This line matches the lines of the side sills.
Side profile: The Bulli’s two-tone paint also distinguishes the
sides. Treated in white is the entire area above what is known as
the character line. Originating in the wings is a white stripe that
runs to the distinctive D-pillars; above them, the entire roof
section is painted in this colour. The continuous line of windows
creates an especially striking contrast between the white sections.
Here the visually slender black pillars executed in the style of the
2001 Microbus concept are visually striking. Painted in red are the
door mirror housings protruding from the line of windows.
Beneath the character line is the red body area. Design elements
such as the distinctive wheel housings, the additional shape
modulation in the door surfaces above the side sills and the
headlights that wrap around to the sides with minimal seams are
details that would not have been possible to manufacture in this
form and precision on a T1. Concealed in the sandwiched floor behind
the sills is the 1,450 kg Bulli’s lithium-ion battery. The white
door handles are practical, opening in the direction of pull. The
18-inch alloy wheels are especially attractive. At their centres are
stylised chrome hubcaps – another tribute to the bus of years past.
Shorter than ever are the overhangs at the front and rear.
Rear section: The Volkswagen design DNA with its horizontal lines
also dominates the rear of the new Bulli. Viewed from the bottom
upwards, above the body-coloured bumper (including black, stylised
diffuser) there is the tailgate that extends across the entire width
of the vehicle. In the tailgate, the narrow LED rear lights continue
a theme from the Microbus concept of 2001. At the centre, but
smaller than at the front end: the VW symbol. When all six seating
locations are fully occupied, there is a 370 litre bootspace behind
Interior space – melding of car
Like the body design,
the interior is also marked by a level of clarity whose consistent
application can only be found at Volkswagen. The passenger
compartment – immersed in light during the day thanks to its
panoramic sunroof – also harbours some surprises.
A practical highlight: like the T1 in times past, thanks to its
level floor the new Bulli is also equipped with a single bench seat
in front. The van offers space for three in the rear as well.
An infotainment highlight: a removable iPad in the centre console
serves as a multifunctional touchscreen. Along with Internet-based
iPad applications and the media centre, it also handles control of
such functions as Bluetooth hands-free telephone and a navigation
system. Integrated right on the iPad mount are controls for the
climate control system and the centrally located hazard warning
Typical Volkswagen: all cockpit details are clearly organised and
designed to be intuitive. Running laterally across the entire width
is a line with air vents. In front of the driver, there is a
speedometer in the shape of a semicircle. A colour multifunction
display, also semi-circular in shape, can be used to view and
control (via multifunctional keys in the steering wheel and on it)
the navigation system, telephone, trip computer and media centre –
the entire unit of speedometer and multifunction display also
communicates with the iPad. The key word here is sound: a system
produced by legendary guitar and amplifier manufacturer Fender (USA)
ensures that the music sounds as though it were being performed
live. At Woodstock in 1969, Jimi Hendrix played "The Star-Spangled
Banner" – the American national anthem – on a Fender Stratocaster
What is not found in the Bulli is a tachometer (unnecessary with an
electric motor) or a conventional gear shift or gear selection lever
(also unnecessary with an electric motor). The latter is replaced by
a rotary switch to the right of the driver, which is used to
activate forward and reverse gears. A pushbutton in the same switch
is used to start and stop the motor. Another rotary switch to the
left of the driver is used to control the lighting functions.
Seats become reclining surface in
The outer and middle
seat positions of the front bench seat can be folded down (2/3
split); the rear beach seat, meanwhile, can be completely stowed.
When the rear bench seat is stowed, cargo capacity increases to
1,600 litres. In addition – and here the new Bulli is reminiscent of
its legendary ancestor – the seat system can be transformed into a
large reclining surface with just a few manual movements. This turns
the compact MPV into a compact camper – the ultimate companion for a
At least as important for many users, however, is that the seating
system should not only be versatile but also offer maximum comfort.
The seat position is comfortably high and is equally relaxing. As an
added benefit, it offers an optimised view forward as well. And that
is how it was in the T1 too. Contributing to peace of mind aboard
today’s vehicle is the fact that the new era Bulli is equipped with
all conceivable safety features. And that is the crucial difference:
the car has essentially been reinvented since the days of the first
T1 aka the Bulli aka the Microbus.