VW Bulli brings back Microbus

Volkswagen shows off the Bulli electric concept at the 2011 Geneva auto show.

VW Bulli
The Bulli concept recalls the 1950s Type 2, except that it uses an electric drive train. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Volkswagen's history includes two legendary vehicles, the Beetle and the Type 2, or Microbus. As it revived the Beetle some years ago, the company takes a look back at the Type 2 in a new concept called Bulli. That name comes from the common German term for the Type 2.

The Bulli hearkens back to the Type 2 in its general shape, color scheme, and large VW emblem mounted on the front. But Volkswagen aficionados will immediately notice the lack of a split front windshield.

And unlike the flat four-cylinder engine that rested at the rear of the Type 2, the Bulli gets an electric motor at the front, driving the front wheels. A 40 kWh lithium ion battery pack fits in the chassis, underneath the passenger compartment.

Volkswagen claims impressive numbers for the Bulli, such as a 186-mile range and a one hour charging time. However, for charging time, Volkswagen does not specify whether it would use a rapid charger. Although the drive train only produces 114 horsepower, its 199 pound-feet of torque should give it satisfying initial acceleration.

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