VW Bulli brings back Microbus

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

Wayne Cunningham/CNET
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.