When Volkswagen showed their Bulli microbus concept at last spring’s Geneva Motor Show, the public loved it. It was the perfect blend of modern functionality and retro styling, sized right for the times. The old VW Microbus was significantly larger than the Beetle of the day, but the Bulli concept isn’t. In fact, the Bulli will compete more against VW’s own Golf than against it’s Routan minivan for buyers, but that assumes VW will actually build it.
If Britain’s Autocar is correct, the decision is all but done, and the Bulli will be assembled in VW’s Puebla, Mexico plant, alongside the new Beetle. In fact, both cars (or all three cars when VW launches the new Beetle Cabriolet) will be part of VW’s ‘Heritage Range’ of vehicles, meant to lure in buyers who previously owned an air-cooled Beetle or a Microbus. One thing that isn’t likely to carry over from the Bulli concept is the electric drivetrain, which will most likely be replaced by VW’s venerable 2.5-liter five-cylinder and their 2.0-liter TDI turbo diesel.
The Bulli will go head to head against other boxy-but-good rides like the Kia Soul and the Nissan cube. Unlike it’s competitors from Japan and Korea, the Bulli has a history and a worldwide legion of fans with fond memories of the old VW Microbus. Will that be enough to sell cars? My guess is “yes,” and I suspect that VW may do better with the Bulli than they’ll do with the newly restyled Beetle.
If Volkswagen has given the project a thumbs up, look for the Bulli to hit VW dealers in 2013 as a 2014 model.