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Light your incense: The VW Type 2 van might come back as a battery-electric vehicle

VW Bulli Concept
Those who have spent many hazy days traveling on a hippie trail in a fried-out Kombi may be intrigued to hear that the iconic Volkswagen Type 2 camper might make a very modern return as an electric vehicle.

Speaking at the New York Auto Show to Autocar, VW board member Dr Heinz-Jakob Neusser said that the company is developing a camper van concept that will sport an electric motor driving the front wheels. Battery packs will be laid out under the floor, allowing for maximum cargo space.

VW Bulli Concept
Volkswagen’s Bulli Concept from the 2011 Geneva Auto Show

Even though the VW van has continued to evolve throughout many generations, the Type 2 is the most iconic, and its this recognition that has to carry over to a new one. “First the wide, solid, D-Pillar, second the boxy design of the centre 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,” Dr Neusser said.

Apart from the consumer benefits of having a battery-electric car, there are engineering and design benefits that make emulating the classic front end easier. An electric motor lets developers place the “bonnet line” much lower than a conventional engine will allow.

As fond as we remember the way-back (and far out) days of the Type 2, it only just went out of production two years ago. Brazil had the last operation factory and produced the car until 2013 when transport safety regulations made it obsolete.

VW Bulli Concept

It’s also not the first time a VW van concept has been bandied about, never to have really found footing. This time may be different, however, since this new era of electric vehicles and consumer demand might give VW the opportunity it needs to reintroduce the vehicle. Neusser said that if there’s an attractive cost base, the concept could move into production.

Until this concept takes the stage at some future auto show, we’ll just have to use our imagination as to what the modern Type 2 would look like. Our fantasy Kombi has an interior we call “Deep Purple.”

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