For a solid 15 years — longer than the combined duration of Planet War I, II, and Korea — Volkswagen has made a habit of teasing shoppers with boxy concepts that draw inspiration from the company’s far-out Microbus of yesteryear.
It does not matter no matter whether the automaker is flying high, like it was at the turn of the century (and decade), or digging itself out of a scandal, like it is now. There’s often a piece of flower power vaporware lurking nearby, prepared to trigger increasingly distant memories of a free-wheeling, free-enjoy past.
We’ve been tentatively promised some sort of modern day-day Microbus given that the New Beetle nonetheless seemed somewhat new, but to no avail. Nicely, instances are altering, and along with it, technology. But VW’s techniques are not.
These days, we wake up to news of a new Wonderful-Wonderful-Great Grandson of Microbus — this time, an I.D.-based notion bound for Detroit subsequent month. Borrowing the exact same hardware as the similarly conceptual I.D. revealed this fall, the unnamed concept is becoming teased as a feasible member of VW’s looming family members of electric cars. Yup, it may possibly show up, Volkswagen implies. You’ll may drive a single … ELECTRICALLY.
Consider of the eco-friendly pals you could bring along for the ride! What a stone-cold gas, man. Dig it. Set the GPS to Haight and Ashbury!
For these of you who were unaware, the I.D. appeared in September, riding atop VW’s Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB). Standout functions consist of a 125 kWh battery pack, capable of propelling that small EV for a distance of up to 373 miles, and cavernous interior room for its size. The automaker wants production vehicles on the road by the finish of the decade.
Now, the MEB platform tends to make wonderful sense for a automobile with Microbus proportions. A flat floor hiding a huge battery tray would make a excellent foundation on which to plunk a hippie-filled cabin. Right after all, any latter-day Microbus requirements a spacious interior for group discussions about Nietzsche and Marx, not to mention that other thing. With a modest electric motor performing the grunt operate, there’d be no want to locate space in which to hide a bulky gasoline powerplant. Maybe — just maybe — this concept has promise.
Even so, let’s go on a trip down memory lane. On the heels of the New Beetle, Volkswagen’s retro obsession spawned the Microbus Idea exhibited at the 2001 North American International Auto Show. This is pre-9/11, preserve in mind. The folks in Wolfsburg kept the notion in play for years, promising a production model that never showed up.
The Microbus project was sooner or later declared dead in 2005. As an alternative, VW decided to rebadge a Chrysler Town & Nation and get in touch with it the Routan.
Quickly-forward to 2011, when VW revealed the Bulli concept at the Geneva Motor Show. Smaller sized than the earlier notion, the Bulli’s Microbus heritage wasn’t tough to spot. “This is one bus worth waiting for,” Volkswagen declared on its web site. Properly, buyers did, and the waiting in no way ended.
Practically a year ago, at January’s Customer Electronics Show, The bus was back, this time in the type of the BUDD-e electric notion. Sporting very familiar proportions, the awfully named BUDD-e was hailed by its creator for bringing “the Microbus into the 21st Century.” The idea utilised the very same MEB platform later employed for the I.D. and shared identical range estimates.
Forgive this author, as Microbus Concept Fatigue is not treated by wellness care plans — universal or otherwise. We’ve noticed the very same cake come out of Volkswagen’s kitchen also a lot of times, every single time the product of a slightly different recipe. So, if the firm desires to avoid more ridicule, the automaker needs to construct a production version of this thing or by no means talk about it once again.
Customers old sufficient to keep in mind the Summer season of Enjoy, and who probably had some interest in the earlier concept, are now comfortably ensconced in their new crossovers. The retro pull of that storied time grows weaker by the day. It is now or never ever.
[Images: Volkswagen AG]