New, Electric VW Bus Will Inspire Nostalgia

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Announced at CES in January, 2016, The New, Electric VW Bus Will Inspire Nostalgia

Announced at CES in January, 2016, The New, Electric VW Bus Will Inspire Nostalgia

Volkswagen is set to reveal an all-electric microbus van, with a range of up to 310 miles at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month. The new VW Bus will inspire nostalgia. Few vehicles are so iconic that they transcend the original culture that first embraced them. The original Volkswagen bus is one of these unicorns.

The van will strongly resemble the original bus, keeping in mind three important design cues. 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.

The van will be front wheel drive, with a small motor up front and battery packs under the floor. Its range of 250 to 300 miles would top everything currently available in the States except for Tesla.

VW plans to build the Camper in Mexico beginning in 2017, and there will be a four-cylinder gasoline version and a diesel version, too.

New, Electric VW Bus Will Inspire Nostalgia Among Show Attendees At 2016 CES

Herbert Diess, head of passenger cars for Volkswagen, will announce the van during the January 5 keynote address at CES. Gary Shapiro, whose company produces CES said the van is a “groundbreaking electric vehicle that will further illustrate the synergy between the Internet of Things and the automotive industry.”

This isn’t the first time VW has teased a new version of the bus. In 2001, it showed the Microbus concept, and a decade later there was the Bulli. Neither of them ever actually saw production.

Original VW Bus Is The Inspiration For The New, Electric VW Bus

Original VW Bus Is The Inspiration For The New, Electric VW Bus

Original production on the bus first began in Germany in the 1950s. Production moved to Brazil after Germany changed a number of its safety regulations. Then, when Brazil changed its safety regulations in 2013 to require anti-lock brakes and multiple airbags (pretty crucial), production stopped altogether.

There are a few things to keep in mind about the new bus, however. First, It Probably Won’t Be a True Camper. At least the first model won’t be. We expect an electric van that might come with a camper conversion add-on in the future. Initially, though, VW will want to make them appeal to the broadest consumer base possible which probably precludes a camper.

Second, the electric motor is limited. VW plans to mount the electric motor and batteries on the existing MQB chassis in order to keep costs down and speed production up. It will come with a 4WD version but, alas, 4WD won’t do much good unless battery technology makes huge strides to improve range.

New, Electric VW Bus Will Inspire Nostalgia

New, Electric VW Bus Will Inspire Nostalgia

Third, Volkswagen is entering a crowded marketplace. It created the U.S. camper market that it subsequently abandoned in 2003. Since then, Dodge, Nissan, Ford, and even Mercedes are meeting the demand. VW may regain some of its market share if the new bus remains true to the original design.

Fourth, Volkswagen has made tantalizing promises before, but each time has been a false starts. With the new e-camper, it seems as if VW is on track to maintain its once-every-few-years promise concepts. This time, let’s hope the bus reaches production.

The VW Bulli Was A False Start By VW To Inspire Nostalgia In North America

The VW Bulli Was A False Start By VW To Inspire Nostalgia In North America

Finally, to meet the charging needs of an electric bus, Volkswagen announced it would be investing $10 million in electric charging infrastructure by 2016.

The iconic Volkswagen “Hippie bus” seems poised for a comeback. VW’s plans to resurrect the Microbus form part of a broader commercial vehicle strategy aimed at significantly bolstering its sales performance in the U.S. market.

Update

Volkswagen announced the Budd-e, all electric concept car at CES. Volkswagen is now characterizing it as a scalable “all-new” architecture. Budd-e represents the A/B segment crossover version of the platform. Interestingly, the flat battery module can be scaled to the size of the vehicle as well. VW tells us the platform won’t support internal-combustion range extender engines.

Volkswagen revealed that if Porsche’s proposed 800V charging system goes into production and is adopted as a new standard, VW would likely use this technology in its EVs.

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Bill is an Associate Producer at Horsepower Broadcasting as well as our Operations Analyst. He personally oversees most all of the myriad interviews with our automotive celebrity guests. He handles scheduling, contacts, press releases, press passes and everything in between. His keen intellect is awe inspiring and he is a true academician in every sense of the term.

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