There have been many attempts to reboot the classic Type 2
Throughout the years, Volkswagen has released a number of concept vehicles inspired by its iconic Type 2 van (also known as the Microbus, Bulli, Kombi, Transporter, or simply bus). The Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept is the automaker’s most recent effort and was unveiled at this week’s 2017 Detroit auto show. And though the past concepts failed to reach production, there’s a good chance the I.D. Buzz (a play on the word bus) will be the one that finally makes it. That said, it’ll be awhile before we find out. The Buzz is based on VW’s upcoming MEB all-electric platform and the first model (most likely a hatchback of some sort) isn’t slated for production until 2020. So in the meantime, here’s a look back at past Microbus-inspired concepts.
Volkswagen Microbus Concept
Back at the 2001 Detroit Auto Show, Volkswagen unveiled the Microbus Concept and it was a hit. It was a heavily stylized and futuristic-looking concept, but it had just enough cues and proportions of the classic Type 2–despite having its 3.2-liter V-6 mounted up front. In addition to dual-sliding rear doors, the Microbus Concept had second-row captain’s chairs that swiveled to face multiple directions.
Volkswagen Bulli Concept
VW’s next interpretation of the Microbus arrived a full 10 years later as the Bulli concept. Unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, the Bulli featured a few Type 2 styling cues, but not its proportions, especially with the short and stubby hood more reminiscent of traditional minivans. Under the hood was a 114-hp electric motor driving the front wheels, though the Bulli was designed to accommodate gas and diesel engines as well.
Volkswagen BUDD-e Concept
Unveiled at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the Volkswagen BUDD-e Concept was the first to feature the automaker’s MEB all-electric platform. Both the front and rear axles were driven by an electric motor and a big 101-kWh battery provided enough juice for over 200 miles (322 km) of range. The BUDD-e was also packed with fancy tech appropriate for CES, including a giant 12.3-inch curved infotainment display and gesture controls. And though VW says BUDD-e featured Microbus-inspired design, there was very little that reminded us of the vintage Type 2.
Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept
The I.D. Buzz Concept appears to have hit the mark when it comes to mimicking the Type 2’s look. With a flat front, two-tone paint job, and pseudo-air vents at the D-pillar, the Buzz is a funky mix of classic and futuristic styling. And like the old Type 2, the Buzz is rear-wheel-drive (though all-wheel drive is also a possibility). With VW’s push to churn out MEB-based vehicles, producing the I.D. Buzz seems like a no-brainer.
VW has tried several times to bring back the iconic bus, and this time they might just do it. But it’ll be very hard to top the original. The first-generation Type 2 (now referred to as T1) was manufactured from 1950-1976 and is inseparable from 1960s counterculture. The second-generation Type 2 (called T2) lost the split windshield and a few other classic design cues, but it remains an icon–especially in Latin American markets where it continued production in some form all the way up until 2013.