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Volkswagen’s iconic hippy bus could reincarnate as an EV in 2017

Volkswagen Microbus concept
The next retro-inspired member of the Volkswagen family might be a people-mover that harkens back to the iconic Bus, a new report coming out of England finds.

Designed largely with the North American market in mind, the yet-unnamed 21st century Bus will be markedly inspired by the original, rear-engined model that was built in various forms from late 1949 up until 2013. Like the Microbus concept (pictured) that was introduced in 2001, the updated model will share three important styling cues with the original hippy Bus.

“First the wide, solid, D-pillar, second the boxy design of the center section and, thirdly, the front end must have a very short overhang. The distance from the A-pillar to the front end must be very short,” explained Hans-Jakob Neusser, Volkswagen’s development chief, in an interview with Autocar.

The retro treatment will only be skin-deep. A size smaller than the Transporter, the concept will usher in a new all-electric drivetrain that will power Volkswagen’s upcoming battery-powered models. Technical details are still few and far between, but it will allegedly be built using components borrowed from the Audi R8 e-tron and the Audi e-tron quattro concept that will be shown shortly at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The van will offer a maximum driving range of anywhere between 250 and 310 miles thanks to recent advances in lithium-ion battery technology.

If the rumor turns out to be true, the next Volkswagen Bus will bow as a close-to-production concept at next year’s edition of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that will open its doors in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January. The show car will be toned down slightly and added to the Volkswagen lineup as a regular production model in time for the 2018 model year. It will be built alongside the Beetle and the Golf in Puebla, Mexico, a factory that previously churned out the original Bus and the original Beetle.

An electric version might be offered at launch, but buyers will also be able to choose from turbocharged gasoline- and diesel-burning engines sourced from the Volkswagen parts bin.

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