Like Dylan at Newport, the scraggly old VW bus is going electric.
Volkswagen is expected to introduce a conceptual, iPad-enabled Microbus EV at the International Motor Show in Geneva tomorrow. The vehicle goes by the name Bulli — which is what Germans have always called it — and it’s got all the modern amenities the original gas-guzzler never had (and sorely needed) and then some. The electric motor throws up 85 kW of power and travels as far as 186.4 miles before needing a recharge. A removable iPad in the center console handles your hands-free phone and GPS navigation.
Too modern? The new bus still has a few of the same quirks that endeared its iconic predecessor to every longhair in America: It has bench seats and a two-toned exterior, and, with a top speed of 87 mph, it’s really freakin’ slow. We might be mistaken here, but we could swear Berkeley just had a collective orgasm.
That’s about where the similarities end, though. So we’ve gotta? wonder if VW has gone far enough in evoking people’s nostalgia for the ’60s (clearly the goal here). VW’s updated Beetle was a huge success, because it captured the ebullience of the original. We can’t say the same about the reintroduced Bulli. First manufactured in 1950, the Microbus was so absurd, what with its bulging top and non-existent hood, it managed to look cool; it was the perfect (and perfectly contrarian) symbol of the counterculture. The new Bulli is a boxy thing with a semi-pronounced hood and even proportions — nothing too big, nothing too small. It’s respectable, the kind of body that falls somewhere between a minivan and a Mini Cooper, which isn’t counterculture at all, it’s just… square.